What Do the Grieving Folks Do?

Well, that was quick; I shared all my deep sadness, and then had one post about how I got better.   Smile.  Of course there were so many long, grueling, and dark days where minutes truly did seem like hours.  Friends in similar circumstances have asked me, how did you get through them… I mean…what did you actually do each day?  I wanted to know the same thing during my dark days…what should I do with myself when I feel too sad to act normal?

In the old days, people would practice a set of mourning rituals which let the outside world know that they had suffered a loss. You did not therefore have to act normal, if you were not up to it at some moment.  Some readers may recall the George Bailey character with the black armband on his sleeve due to the death of his father in the movie, It’s A Wonderful Life, or Scarlett O’Hara ditching her mourning clothes a bit too early, and scandalizing her family and friends.  Perhaps the cessation of such rituals is a loss for our culture.  I recall an incident shortly after our trauma that occurred at the Chamblee Tucker Kroger where I found myself unable to recall exactly how to write a check once I got to the register. Would I prefer to wear a very small symbol of my sadness that would let the people in line at Kroger know why I seem to be in a bit of a fog, rather than experience their dirty looks for taking too long?   And would I show more kindness to someone in mourning who seemed to be a bit lost?  I’d like to think so.  The mourning consideration seemed to be a civilized way to acknowledge the commonality of death in the human race as one that earns the mourner an extra measure of grace even from strangers. I kind of like that.

On the other hand, maybe I would prefer to hide my standing as a mourner, and try to blend in with the diet Coke drinkers of the world.  And maybe I would have preferred to do it differently each day, because each day brought unexpected emotions. We grievers are an irrational, emotional, and unpredictable lot.

Last time I shared about how I got my thinking worked out. This time however, I will share what I physically did during that time. Actually I started out sitting in a chair and staring out my window most of each day and night, but that gets old. Perhaps I should write a book called Grieving for the Inattentive because I found sitting and staring so difficult after a while. So to get out of the prison of my own sadness, I chose to gradually become more active in the world.  The following is a look back on what I did, but as you know, it is not a formula, magic or otherwise.

Forgive me if my dark humor offends; it is not meant to. We all grieve in a way that is like our personality. Those who know me well know of my love of music, and my love of all things funny.  Sometimes I combine those two, for my own amusement and for the amusement of others.  For example, when I worked at the international school in China, I composed a Silly Senior Song for each of our soon-to-be graduates. I would gather information about the kids from their friends and then write some lyrics to a popular tune, and then the faculty would sing these songs at our banquet.  It was both fun, cheesy, and campy, but it was meant to be both a tribute, and encouraging. It is in that spirit, and with apologies to Lerner and Lowe, that I offer these lyrics.

What Do the Grieving Folks Do?

What do the grieving folks do?
To help them escape when they’re blue?
The young expectant mother, the bride that never was,
The ones that miss their brother, or sister, or cuz.
What are their best coping ways?
To get through the long and sad days?
Do they have special systems?
Or strategies to try?
Oh what, do grieving folks do?
Other than cry?

I can say for true,  no magic cure exists,
By day I sit and stare, the same at night.
But soon I found that work could help me get to sleep,
And so I sewed, & cleaned & exercised.
And that’s what grieving folks do.
At least me.

What else do the grieving folks do?
When staring in space will not do?
There must be some suggestions
That don’t include housework.
Oh what do grieving folks do?
For a perk?

Speaking for myself,
I talked with other friends
The ones who knew me well and did not judge.
They listened patiently, and let me take my time,
And from my saddened world gave me a nudge.
And that’s what grieving folks do,
At least me.

What else do the grieving folks do?
To help them, I haven’t a clue?
To get through 24 hours, and do so in such pain,
Oh what do grieving folks do?
To keep sane?

I have one more thing that gave me such relief,
Though some will be surprised that it would work.
I babysat the kids of all my dearest friends,
And all those precious children chased the murk.
And that’s what grieving folks do,
At least me.

About allthingslizard

I have done just about everything I have always wanted to do: worked as a campus minister, became a teacher, married a nice man named Joe (36 years now), adopted three wonderful kids and watched them reach adulthood, lived overseas, earned my Ph.D., and recently became an RN. However the only thing I have not yet done is to write about my life's journey, even though I have written a lot of personal poems, mom notes to my kids, academic papers, and thousands of letters. I have a lot to write about because all those things I have done were accomplished on smooth roads with beautiful vistas, as well as on scary, twisted, hurricane alleys. Maybe you will find something here that you can relate to. And yes, I know that a preposition is a terrible thing to end a sentence with.
This entry was posted in Adoption, Motherhood and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to What Do the Grieving Folks Do?

  1. Thanks again for sharing all this. Your lyrics makes me wish I still had a couple of that song you rewrote for me. Priceless.

  2. Kim Smith says:

    Takes me back, Liz. 🙂 But I really want to hear you singing it . . .

  3. nancy vossler says:

    okay, i never knew this story about you guys. It all took me back to our adoption of Alicia and then to our fostering of a little boy whom we knew we had to give up sometime in the future. It was the most utterly devastating pain I’ve ever felt to give him up–and I only had to do it once and i was prepared ahead of time! I can only imagine what a shock it was to you to give up Joshua and I feel your grief. Good writing, Liz.

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