What is Grief?

That’s easy. Grief is intense sorrow caused by loss. Sorrow is an emotion of great sadness. Sadness is the antonym of happiness. Happiness is technically a “state of well-being characterized by emotions ranging from contentment to intense joy.”

Many people experience grief, and many people experience happiness. At times I favor that legal embodiment of I might not be able to define grief or happiness, but I know it when I see it or I feel it.

You are not me, and I am not you. Why would anyone expect us to express our joy and our sadness in the same manner? For some we say that their emotions are worn upon their sleeve. With others their emotions remained bottled. Is one right or one wrong? Shouldn’t it be neither or both?

We are all guilty of judging, of formulating an opinion before facts are known. If that prejudgment is incorrect or our opinion flawed, is it wise to allow it to taint or to stain our feelings beyond repair? Do we have a right to spread that blemish onto others?

Here’s the thing. You may cry when I feel you should laugh. In my opinion your frown should be a smile. Yet do I know, understand, feel all that you do? Do I have knowledge of the history, of the context? Have I walked that proverbial mile in your shoes? Are those footprints yours or mine?

It’s one thing to edify. An acknowledgment, smile, kind word, may have a positive impact beyond our imaginations. A simple gesture we emit may emerge as a grand occurrence to someone on the other end. You’ve heard of dropping a pebble into the ocean or of a butterfly flapping its wings. Is any day really completed without at least trying to brighten that day for another? Why? I don’t know, so how about just because we share a small portion of this universe.

As John Donne wrote in Meditation XVII

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.”

Feelings, emotions, all are personal, unique to our own being. Yet, feelings, emotions are also shared amongst others. As Robert Frost wrote in The Road Not Taken:

TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

We share similarities and differences. There’s nothing mysterious or wrong with that. What’s wrong is when one or the other tries to increase the importance of the differences and lessen the familiar. When one feels the only way to build upon their belief is to tear down the belief of another.

In reality what is really happening is the foundation from which one stands from whence to tear begins to crumble. That proverbial slippery slope has been tread upon, and we begin to slip and fall.

What if, however, we lowered a hand to offer assistance or as a brace upon which another can pull upon? What if we served as a foundation upon which another could climb and reach higher? What if our assistance helped them reach the peak, and they in turn assisted us in reaching the same level to then embark upon a higher summit?

All we can do is to try our best. Our best at any given moment, however, may be more or less. How can we really know if another is giving their best at a particular moment? When we cast that judgment or form that opinion and relay the same are we not eroding the platform to enable one, both, or all to move higher?

All I’m writing is that we have the option to be positive instead of negative. If you’re glue and I’m rubber, which would you rather throw to have bounce back and stick to you?

The above is just an off the top of my head rambling for less than 10 minutes.

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