Don't grieve alone; 14,000 members and growing
There are many mentions of guilt on this site, and it often seems to be assumed that all bereaved people suffer from guilt. As far as I can tell that isn’t true for me, unless I am in very deep denial. On the other hand, I feel a lot of shame about being bereaved, being alone, being tearful, distraught, unproductive, etc. At the same time it seems ridiculous to be ashamed because someone beloved has died, and I haven’t seen other people reflect this feeling, so thought it was just my problem — until today, when I came across a paragraph in a memoir written by a woman (S. Lesley Buxton) after the untimely death of her young daughter. I don’t find much that engages me in the ‘grief writing’ genre, but this book came my way and to my surprise did grab my attention just a few pages in, so I’m going to quote a bit of it here, in case it resonates with someone who is grieving.
“I never expected shame to be a feeling I connected with loss, but I felt as if I’d been caught stealing, or making love with my best friend’s husband. . . . I know that people whisper about me. I accept that. I’m living proof that bad things happen to nice people. . . . There’s shame attached to that. Surrounded by a group of mothers discussing their children, I shrink, will myself to disappear. Naturally I have opinions about what they’re discussing, but I’m afraid to say anything. Even though logically I know I did everything I could for my child, I’m very much aware that I failed. Why would any one want to hear from me? I’m the mother of the dead girl.” (One Strong Girl, p. 54)
In my case, it’s the death of my husband, and now my mother, that I am grieving, but the sensation described of shame to the point of being dumbstruck is exactly how I feel. It’s like you’ve been invalidated, stripped of identity — like you’re not worthy of . . . well, anything.