Monday, October 3, 2011

Grief is contagious

There is a saying "Smile and the whole world smiles with you, weep and you weep alone"

There is some truth in that comment---if you smile people will generally smile back.  Even if you are sad on the inside you can generally fake a smile well enough that most people won't catch it.  Those who know you really well might see that your eyes do not match your smile, that the sparkle in the eyes generally attached to the smile really isn't there-however most will not catch it.  In all honesty we the bereaved don't generally want others to catch our lack of smile, we just want to survive our days the best we can and as another saying goes we just "fake it till we make it".  Faking it one smile at a time, one day at a time often, one second at a time.

Then there is the back side of the quote.  Weep and you weep alone.  To some degree that is true, we generally weep alone even if tears are not dropping from our eyes.  Our hearts and minds weep on the inside, alone in our own world--keeping those around us safe from the contagious grief.  This is where the above comment has some untruth in it---

Grief is contagious-absolutely and without a doubt.  I can be grieving without sharing a word or a thought about it with my husband and he will begin to grieve.  Grief is like a cloud of dust from a blanket just shaken-it scatters and lands on whatever it is around and nearby.  It can land softly upon your shoulder without you even noticing it or it can land hard, nearly knocking you over, but in the end it spreads. 

Is spreads like a virus. 

For some of us it over takes us like the flu.  We end up in bed with the covers over our head.  We have no energy or motivation to even lift our head up.  We close our eyes and stay in our own little world.  The chills come and go, the waves of grief come and go. 

For many it is a little cold that just won't go away.  It hangs onto us and no matter what we try to do it won't let go of it's grip on us.  We live with a Kleenex box by our side since we never know when the dripping eyes or running nose may start.

Grief jumps from us to those around us and before we know it our entire house has caught it.  The gloom, the pain, the lack of energy just hits us all and eventually there isn't any antibiotic that will cure us. 

But truly in the end there is nothing that will cure our grief.  The life of our child is and would be the only cure all and until we get to reunite with them we will always be sick.  Our house, our family will always be susceptible to grief, we are only a thought away from spreading it's virus.

There is one thought though that has just occurred to me--is there an antibiotic that can help take some of the symptoms away? Yes!!  Find something that gives you purpose in your life.  Find something that you can do to honor your child, honor the life they lived.  Find something useful to keep that virus from lingering too long--

I know people who have written books since their child died (myself included).  People have started grieving support groups to give their life purpose.  Parent's have formed entire organizations to make others aware of suicide, diseases, accidents that could have been prevented.  These are all big things to keep the grief away.  There is also the smaller, probably even more important acts that parents have done-they have decided to live more deeply, love more deeply, care for their families more deeply.  This is such an amazing way to honor our children's lives--by living one worthy of their memory. 

Smile and the whole world smiles with you, grieve and your world may grieve with you. Live and love and the world may become lovely again. 

(If anyone is looking for a speaker or for someone to hold a workshop I would love to offer myself to this, that is my antibiotic.  You can contact me at

1 comment:

  1. If tears are a language that GOD understands, he is well acquainted with me, because now there's only one, and he had loaned me three!
    In loving memory of my sons, Jonathan and Stephen Cambron.
    The only thing worse than losing a child? Losing two!