Sounds rather contradictory, eh? How could grief possibly be positive? Its very mention seems to evoke diminishment and uncertainty. And what would a constructive environment for grief be like? I’ve found myself thinking quite a bit about this, especially moving through the holidays, and approaching the second anniversary of Kissie’s death.
A “grief positive” environment (or atmosphere) is where, and with whom, we feel the expression of our grief (mourning) is allowed, welcomed, and valued. Outside of an organized “grief group,” I would venture this is hard to come by for most, and especially in a prevailing cultural and social climate so accustomed to the pursuit of personal mastery, and the silver lining. Very fortunately, I have a grief positive spouse, and home life. I’m also lucky to have in my midst, a number of family members and friends who allow, acknowledge, and even embrace their own grief, and who in turn have the capacity to extend a developing understanding to me and others without constraint or prescription.
To be able to openly express my sorrow, and talk about whatever comes to mind without reproach, is crucial. I can’t imagine how I would fare without these touchstone relationships, and the islands of sanity and mutual understanding they provide in this strenuous time of grieving. Yet, they are not everywhere, and they are certainly not commonplace. My fellow grief practitioners are my ports in a storm of misapprehension about what grief has to teach us, and what will become of us if we learn.