Found an article this evening from the Washington Post:
One Way to Handle Grief: Just Get Over It
I don’t care for the title… it’s callous and makes my hackles go up. But on the other hand, the callousness draws the readers’ attention, and that’s the point, right?
Anyway. A research study was conducted with a group of people who had lost loved ones, and the author found that there were three basic categories of grievers:
- Mullers – those who lost a part of themselves, searched for & found some meaning, and extracted positive lessons from the experience
- Chronic Grievers – those who continually ask “Why did this happen?” Most felt that nothing good had come from the experience, and that their beliefs & trust had been shattered/betrayed
- Copers – those who accept that “shit happens.” They don’t ask why or look for a deeper meaning… they just deal with loss as it occurs
I don’t think that people have a choice about which category they fall into… I think it’s intrinsically decided through their nature and how they deal with day-to-day life.
But then, I think about that statement – and I might disagree with myself. Naturally, I would say once a muller, always a muller; once a coper, always a coper; and so on. But maybe the circumstances of the death also plays a role. Mama’s death was looming – I didn’t want to admit it to myself or anyone else, but all the odds were stacked against her. And I knew it. I saw it coming… as much as I allowed myself to actually see, that is.
But what about the people who have a loved one die suddenly? Whose mother or father or sister is killed in a car accident, or is murdered, or has a brain aneurysm? Does a muller still mull when they’re completely blind-sided? Maybe not at first – there’s the shock stage. Even if you know it’s coming, like we did, you’re still in shock for the first couple of months. So I would imagine that if it’s unexpected, the shock may last even longer than that.
My original point was that perhaps the type of death may influence the type of griever you become. But now that I’ve written all the way through it, never mind. I’m back to “once a muller, always a muller.” Because after you get through that initial phase of denial/shock/screaming “WHY?” into the heavens, you drop back into the pattern that comes naturally, whether it’s to mull, chronically fixate, or cope.
I, clearly, am a muller. I mull morning, noon, and night, trying to figure out why I feel and how I feel and how others feel and how everything affects everything. It’s exhausting, both for me and those around me, and I’m no more able to stop it than I’m able to stop breathing. The article’s author (a psychologist who’s also a muller) calls it “CPR.”
The “C” is for character (these people have been tested and strengthened); “P” is for perspective (they now see the world in a new way); “R” is for relationships (important people in their lives have taken on increased emotional significance).
I like this breakdown… it gives me something concrete to think about, focus on… a goal to shoot for. Something good that comes out of the devastation of Mama leaving. Mama’s gone, so I might as well try to find some good in it…
Wikipedia associates “character” with the following words: integrity, courage, fortitude, honesty, and loyalty. What lovely words – I do so wish that they applied to me. But honestly, I don’t know if Mama’s death makes me more likely to possess these traits. Except maybe “honesty.” And I would like to think “courage” – it’s hard to remember or imagine what life was like/would have been like with Mama still here, but I believe that Miscarriage x2 would have leveled me completely. Not that I’m all happy and fully functioning or anything… but I’m pretty sure (at least I would like to think) that I would be in worse shape if two miscarriages were the worst thing to ever happen to me. But then there’s this thought…. would I have even HAD two miscarriages if Mama hadn’t died? I remember our lives “before” – and I can’t see two miscarriages being a part of it. Mama was too strong, too…. motherly. She wouldn’t have allowed it to happen. I know that sounds so idealistic – but it’s hard to convey what a strong, courageous, force my mother was.
Perspective… now that one, I can go with. If nothing else, I’ve gained perspective. It sucks, but I have it and am gaining more every day. Whether I want to or not.
And finally, relationships… the increased emotional significance of the important people who are left. Yes, I can agree with that one as well. Although I’ve pared down my list of “important people” to the bare minimum (which is to my detriment, but seemed so unavoidable at the time), the ones who are still hanging on are incredibly significant to me now. Much more so than before… maybe because there are fewer of them, and maybe because I’ve lost someone who I loved so completely. Either way, I would agree that “relationships” is an aspect of the mulling grieving process where I feel like I’ve progressed.
This post has been very long and circular…. no real conclusions or concrete thoughts. And I just realized that it’s 2am. And although it was not on my official list of attainable goals, I would like to state that I’ve consumed several Dos Equis tonight, and they were delicious. So take that, pregnant, beer-deprived woman everywhere!!