Greetings, Grief

For those readers who don’t know me personally and therefore presumably do not know this, my dad died very suddenly of a heart attack on February 10th, the day after his 67th birthday. I called him on his birthday and chatted with him, and he sounded great. The next day my mom called with the worst news I have ever received.

It’s said that one should not talk about politics on Facebook. If I bought into that rule, I’d have deleted Facebook a long time ago. It’s wonderful to have a space where people can read something, think for a while about what they want to say, and then engage if they choose, or scroll on by if they prefer; moreover, it makes no sense to me for politics to be something “private” as the issues are by definition about the public sphere.

In the past month or so, I have seen how strikingly unprepared our culture is to handle grief.  Granted, almost everyone I know has been incredibly kind and clearly wishes to be supportive, and that has been more meaningful than I ever realized it could be when I was the one giving the support in the past. But in terms of really processing grief, modern US culture provides very little space for it. We used to make space; but while it’s obviously not for lack of good will and kindness, we seem just to have no standard place to channel it.

So after witnessing some courageous Facebook sharing from others who have lost parents, I realized that just as Facebook is a great place to talk about politics, it’s also a great place to talk about grief! And for very similar reasons. If you want to engage, you can engage; if you want to lurk, you can lurk; and if you want to mute me, that’s fine too.

And what I write about on social media naturally expands into material for this blog. Hey, given our culture’s discomfort with grief, this also fits the theme of countering dominant narratives!

Another new post about politics is in revision right now and will follow in the next few days, and I’ll follow that up with some about my dad.  These themes are sure to weave together in some coming posts, while others will focus specifically on one topic or the other—or others I have yet to introduce, but am planning to cover in the not-too-distant future.

Meanwhile, this post comes with anguished apologies to my dad, who on his birthday went out to lunch with my mom and asked her about my blog, and where he could read it, because he wasn’t on Facebook and didn’t get notifications of new posts. He then asked me about it that night, and I was going to send him the URL, and noted that Mom (who is on Facebook, while he is not) would be able to tell him when I posted an update.

I’m so sorry, Dad. Why didn’t I think to send new posts to you? You would have been my biggest fan. I am really, really sorry. I would have sent it to you the very next day. But instead, you had a heart attack.

I miss you so much, Dad.  I love you.

2 thoughts on “Greetings, Grief

  1. I agree that sharing and processing openly about grief is counter-cultural in the best way. This kind of post helps other people feel less alone, and more comfortable sharing hard things in their own lives. Thanks for making the world better by being in it.

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  2. I think that public grieving is valuable not only for you but for those around you as well. In addition to giving others the chance to support you in any way that they can, talking about your grief over losing a parent will inevitably turn the thoughts of your listener toward their own parents. Those who have already lost a parent will remember their own love and grief, while those like me who are still fortunate enough to have both parents will be reminded to work ever harder to build a strong relationship with them while we have the chance. Thank you for that gift, and stay strong.

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