Time ago, an Argentinian guy, who worked so many years at the United Nations and who traveled a lot around the world said on his tv program “In this country in Africa, when people say bad news, they put a big smile in their faces and say for example <my son die>” Of course, the person who wasn’t from this country got shocked…”his son died and his smiling, this person is crazy”. He explained later, this custom to say bad news smiling it was practiced for not hurting or worrying the person who listened the bad news.
I went to the grief group at Church. There were 4 people with similar stories to grief. When I came there was one woman named Lyne, who spoke about everything, ex teacher, starting comparing internet prices, astronomy, about her iPad etc etc etc. Every time I meet somebody like her, my first impression is: this person is totally alone by herself. Another participant came and she started to ask her many questions…never stop talking. Then a man came. He sat in his corner and Lyne talked to him asking for his name. Finally, my friend from India, who tried to commit suicide (and I wrote about it in an old post) arrived. The 2 leaders of the group
At some point Lyne, raised her hand as kid for talking and with a big smile said “my name is Lyne and my husband die”. One of the leaders told her to keep that info for later. The dynamic was to talk for some minutes with the person beside you about why he/she was here at the meeting group. I went to talk to Ken, a man in his 80’s in good shape. Candidly I asked him “why are you here?” and he said “my wife died of ovary cancer (metastasis) last November, after 2 months to be diagnosed she passed away, quickly. I got a son in London (Ontario) and I live right now with my grandson but when he leave for his Summer vacations I’ll be alone”. I was speechless, to be honest I wasn’t sure if I should be in that group. I just asked some more questions and he started opening his heart, saying he had no friends, only a bunch of guys who grab a beer in a pub. I was expecting he asked me about myself thing he didn’t. I just said I was there because I was alone and my mother didn’t accept me as gay. Ken seemed sad, what I like of this congregation is you can say you’re gay to somebody of 90 years old and he find it so cool.
Then, the other woman, which I don’t remember her name said his husband (but seemed separated) died of lung cancer last year. She said, the doctors never given more details about his illness, she was more angry that sad about how the health care system how treated her partner. She added she had a teenager of 14. At some point her daughter said “I have nobody to turn to”. Of course, the mother was in shock, she was the week mother and her partner was the father weekend. She wasn’t able to handle her loss and she admitted she couldn’t help her daughter either. She cried several times.
Lyne, was less talkative this time, her husband died in 2006. The thing I remember of her was when she said she wakes up in the morning grabbing the sheets and saying “I have to do everything alone”.
My Indian friend was open to about her reasons to be at the grief group. She said she had a sister who committed suicide, she was anorexic too. I knew she came to Canada as a refugee but she explained she was born in Uganda but then her family went to another city, there, her sister took care of her with her grandmother while her parents went to work to another country. When the parents came back they took her to Canada while, her sister went to England. She was never permitted to ask about her dead. Her parents denied she killed herself with a drug overdose. Her parents went angry if she inquiry about it. When she said that I couldn’t help to think of Alison Bechdel when she said her father committed suicide, despite all evidence says it was an accident. She talked also about her relationship to her girlfriend, 20 years together, that her relationships is changing, like a kid that goes to kinder and then to school and then college etc. I liked her example. The interesting thing was she found a picture of her sister and she was shocked because she realized all girls she dated looked physically as her sister. She died in August, as far as she remembers, she broke up with them in that month, all, obviously unconscious.
I didn’t say much about my self. I didn’t want to. Do you remember that tv show “Go On”, the guy goes to a grief group and started doing a competition which one there had the most pathetic story. They found a winner. There, at my grief group, at least, I felt nobody was competing to say the saddest story (and it’s true that happens in those kind a help groups). We finish our first encounter with a silent meditation. The woman who lost her husband was crying all the time.
I got some conclusions about it. Ken was very worry because he took care of her dying wife…but when he’ll be die…who will take care of him? For him, his son wasn’t enough or probably he didn’t believe he would be there as closer as his wife. Lyne, was also concerned about it…and of course, her phrase “I have to do everything alone” shows her loneliness or at least to have a significant other closer to her. The other woman was just too in anger crying for her loss…she said her husband even dying, was worry about her…saying “who can take care of you?”, my Indian friend said aloud, the genetic family, that here, the family, the nuclear family, dad, mom and children are the core of everything. There is no connection with the world outside that. Yes, blood rules, only the family and most of the time, your spouse have the right to take care of you in difficult moments…a friend is not allow, even closer friends…put distances in this “family issues”, death or no matter what loss is a closed and private issue.
All of them said they were basically alone, alone with no relatives, alone with no partners (exception my Indian friend) …I felt weird…totally weird…because I’m really alone, in another country, with limited resources, I took care of myself during my recovering. I don’t wake in the morning saying “I have to do everything alone”, because I do it every day, moving without any help or advise, struggling and stumbling with small or big rocks …still, should I grief? I’m a lone…and who will take care of me in my last days?….