Mourning is essential for the healthy progression of grief. Therefore it follows that making time to mourn is necessary. Mourning is designated time for intentionally thinking of and remembering the deceased, and expressing and sharing our grief.
By taking time to think of and remember the deceased, we are making time to beckon the pain of our loss. Summoning pain is counter to the natural tendency to avoid and relieve pain. Without the support of traditional mourning practices or a supportive community, summoning our pain can be a frightening proposition. In a society fearful of grief, and dismissive of its value, making time to mourn may be viewed negatively and evoke criticism.
It is a shame that so many of us come to mourning with fear and doubt in addition to the pain. It is common for grief stricken individuals to view grief as a sign that there is something wrong; perhaps mental or emotional weakness, inadequacy, and being a failure. With this mindset, grief becomes a source of embarrassment and shame instead of being understood as a deep expression of our human response to serious loss.
Grief is so naturally human. The pain of separation and loss signifies an eternal truth about our core nature. Mourning acknowledges and validates this truth, the essential connection to others, and the inherent pain resulting from the severance of these connections. For many of us it is counterintuitive and unexpected that making time to mourn, to experience and express our grief, will bring about the eventual diminishment of the pain and disruption of our loss. In fact, honoring the core truth of our human experience of loss, and the essential connection to others facilitates the healthy progression of grief.
Mourning helps us accept the fact of the death and loss. It transforms and eases the pain, allowing us to come to a time when the loss and grief are not a primary determinant of our daily life. Even so, we may continue to experience grief, and mourn our loss at intervals throughout our life. Making time to mourn, five minutes a day, one hour a week, or at some other interval, will foster the natural unfolding of our grief. Whether by traditional ritual, personal ritual, support group, or therapy, making time to mourn is the vehicle for grief.
Acknowledgment of the unique, personal importance of the one who died and his/her death is crucial to the activity and process of mourning. Honoring our grief through the emotional expression of our pain, and relevant, meaningful commemorative activities provides this acknowledgment. Guidance and support in this process are helpful.
Isolation and alienation, and the absence of mourning can accentuate and prolong the pain associated with loss.
Making time to mourn is central to the concept and reality of healthy grieving.
Read more about Mourning on the following pages.