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Death and grieving

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Mar. 16th, 2006 | 03:49 pm
mood: chipperchipper
music: PJ Harvey

Taken from this article:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The sad image of a grieving widow may not be entirely accurate, according to a study published on Tuesday showing that six months after the death of their partner, nearly half of older people had few symptoms of grief.

And 10 percent cheered up, according to the survey conducted by the University of Michigan and paid for by the National Institute on Aging.

The study, which followed 1,500 couples over the age of 65 for years, looked at the quality of their marriages, their attitudes toward one another, and the effects on one spouse after the other died.

Close to half -- 46 percent -- said they had enjoyed their marriages but were able to cope with the loss of a spouse without much grieving.

"Until recently, mental health experts assumed that persons with minimal symptoms of grief were either in denial, emotionally distant or lacked a close attachment to their spouse," Rutgers University sociologist Deborah Carr, who began analyzing the data while she was at the University of Michigan.

"But 46 percent of the widows and widowers in this study reported that they had satisfying marriages. They believed that life is fair and they accepted that death is a part of life," Carr said in a statement.

"After their partner's death, many surviving spouses said they took great comfort in their memories," she added.

"Taken together, these findings provide strong evidence that men and women who show this resilient pattern of grief are not emotionally distant or in denial, but are in fact well-adjusted individuals responding to loss in a healthy way."


It's about time! It makes me think about the "outpouring of grief" sensationalized in the newspapers after Princess Diana died. At the same time, everyone I knew in real life was busy looking for the funniest jokes to make, and wondering if she'd been dead long enough to start making them.

I used to feel ashamed that I never felt anything when someone I knew died. Sometimes I would feel that I should have saved them. Other times I would feel nothing, and I would never know how I was supposed to be behaving. Was I meant to cry? Or was I meant to look stunned and lost? And was I meant to say "I'm sorry for your loss" as if it would make a difference? What is the right way to act when you don't feel anything?

But I don't feel anything. Right from when I was young, I've accepted death. It's hard for me to understand that it takes people by surprise. Maybe it helped to have pets, because when they die, you learn that death is inevitable. When they died, I would be sad. Then I would miss them. And then I would go on with life. It didn't occur to me that someone could be in denial about death.

You are going to die. I am going to die. And everyone that we love will die. Whether that is good or bad or neither is for each person to decide. And there are as many reactions to death as there are people in the world.

I believe that if someone close to me dies, then I can honour them by taking on part of who they were. If something was important to them, then I can try to keep that alive for others. But that is not necessary. If they were happy with their life, then there is no need to do anything.

This entry feels rushed.. it feels like there is a lot missing. Maybe I will come back and expand on it sometime.

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Comments {1}


from: anonymous
date: Mar. 17th, 2006 11:05 am (UTC)

Yes - it was a deliberate step to have pets when you and your brother were young for that very reason, and chooks in particular because we could have babies which died, adults which we had to have killed because a henhouse could not support too many males, and adults which eventually died, so you experienced the lot in a cycle many times.

You also understood that the egg you ate would not produce a chicken if unfertilized, but that you were taking a chicken's life by eating a fertilized egg as much as eating a BBQ chicken!

You attended at deaths of cats if you were willing (as Alan did with Pepper recently) and experienced the full circle from kitten to funeral.

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