My lovely daughter posted this essay and photo on Facebook and has allowed me to share it here. Enjoy another viewpoint.
Dan Moller contends that, when the people closest to us recover quickly from grief after our deaths, this shows that we were relatively unimportant to these people – because our loved ones can function quickly after our deaths without us, and we are easily replaceable in our functional roles. We can always have another lover, another father (stepfather, for instance), another friend. So, quick recovery is deeply regrettable.
To me, this is a gross underestimation of the “importance” that we have in the lives of our loved ones.
For one, grief is nonlinear. We go back to our emotional baselines, or create new ones, because society does not ensure time for extended periods of grief – we are forced to keep living.
Secondly, functionality does not speak to importance, or love. We do not reduce our loved ones down to the role they play in our lives – their inherent value does not lie in this “importance.” Their importance is in the completely unique qualities that make them who they are, and who they are to us. We love them for that – for who they are – not their roles. Our being able to move on after the death of someone we love is not a testament to their unimportance of our lives.
My father was one of the most important people in my life. But I could not continue in life, at 16 years old, constantly consumed by my grief for losing him. I couldn’t get into college, get a job, pursue my life without pushing my anger and despair aside.
But I think about him every day. And some days the memory of him hits me hard. I despair over the pain he was in, how lonely he must have felt, how I could not reach him in the last month of his life.
That certainly gives testament to the fact that he was important to me. Because who he was, the person he was, was degraded by the cancer that infected his body, his brain.
Grief is nonlinear, and my father was, and is, part of me. So don’t tell me that my survivors resilience is regrettable. I grieve every day for my father.