Loss & Grief

Posted by jlubans on March 24, 2015


I’m about a third of the way through Jerry D. Campbell’s, “Choosing to Live: Enduring the Loss of a Loved One.”
Jerry, friend and former colleague, expresses in lucid and unabashedly honest words what most of us only feel when coping with loss, in his case the unexpected death of his wife, LaVeta Dea Sinclair Campbell, or “Veta”, as she was known by me and hundreds of friends in Texas, Colorado, North Carolina and California.
While Jerry’s book is about his personal grief, he writes for anyone grieving; the cause need not be death. What Jerry has to say applies as well to divorce or breaking-up, and in the work place, to being fired, pink-slipped. Some claim that getting sacked is among the most wrenching of human experiences – right up there with divorce – and that there’s a subsequent grieving process - denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Ignored or stuck in denial, our grief can lead to years of self-doubt, anger, and depression and to a lack of resolution – the same plaintive country and western tune played over and over (“A Sad Song Don’t Care Whose Heart It Breaks” – Carl Jackson). Unresolved, it may never be possible to arrive at a balanced and objective review of what happened.*
Jerry’s disciplined approach for managing grief would be of help to anyone reeling and humiliated from “being thrown under the bus”.
In particular, Jerry’s thoughts on loneliness (pages 51-53) resonated for me. “I was alone for the first time in my almost sixty-five years.” No stranger to solitude – I knew Jerry to solo in the desert for a week, reflecting and thinking – but an empty house, full of memories of Veta, was despondently different from returning home to Veta.
Jerry quotes from Harvey Potthoff’s book, “Loneliness: Understanding and Dealing with It”, “… what that loneliness comes to mean to us is partly our own decision.” Our own decision.
As I read this I understood that trying simply to forget, to block out what happened is not enough.
Again, Potthoff:
“What has been done has been done. The experiences we have had with parents and family, the fortunate and unfortunate relationships we have experienced, the successes and failures … the joys and sorrows we have known, are in the lived record and cannot be changed.”
And most keenly: “What can be changed is the meaning these events and experiences have for us.”
Do we dwell for a lifetime on a perceived injustice or do we take what we can from the sadness and “go to new chapters of life”?
What I’ve taken so far from Jerry’s book, is the very real necessity of resolving what’s happened – no, not forgetting – and taking the experience – however petty, shabby, and sad – and building on it. Giving into self pity is OK – unavoidable, probably - for the first few days or weeks, but after that, do yourself a favor: seek to take charge of your life and pick up the pieces from where you last left off. You should begin to realize and understand that what happened “cannot be changed”. What will you do instead of feeling sorry for yourself? What is the good that can come from this bad? It’s there; don’t close the door on it.
No easy task. Jerry’s experience gives us insights into grieving and its phases towards ending and then beginning.

*NOTE: In Greek mythology, Penthus or Penthos was “the spirit (daimon) of grief, mourning and lamentation”. It is believed that he gives the most grief to those who overdo grieving; those who cannot let go of their loss.

Leading from the Middle Library of the Week: Universidad de Navarra Pamplona. España

© 2015 John Lubans

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Posted by Miriam Holley on March 24, 2015  •  17:56:05

Yet again John...I wonderful/thoughtful blog!...These thoughts apply to many many phases in each of our lives. I especially like the reference to Carl Jackson 'A Sad Song Don't Care Whose Heart It Brakes' or Vince Gill "All you can take... is what you give away'.....or another way to think of that..."All you have (in your heart) is what you haven given away'...I know from you, that Jerry must have a FULL heart...I am sorry for his loss...but grateful that he is sharing (giving) his wisdom. I will look into his book...sounds worth while...xxoo m

Posted by jlubans on March 25, 2015  •  05:49:30

Jerry, like you, Miriam, is one of a kind.

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