You Don’t Have to “Get Over It”
Last week I read a beautiful piece in the Sunday New York Times, written by author and psychiatrist Mark Epstein. His article, “The Trauma of Being Alive” began with his words to his 88 year old mother who was still distraught over losses in her life. She said, “’You’d think I would be over it by now’…speaking of the pain of losing my father, her husband of almost 60 years. ‘It’s been more than four years, and I’m still upset.’”
Epstein wrote “Grief needs to be talked about. When it is held too privately it tends to eat away at its own support. ‘Trauma never goes away completely,’ he told his mother. ‘It changes perhaps, softens some with time, but never completely goes away. What makes you think you should be completely over it? I don’t think it works that way.’ There was a palpable sense of relief as my mother considered my opinion.”
I wanted to share this with all of you who write to me about the loss in your life or who come up to me after a performance to cry long-held tears for someone you miss. So often, an audience member will apologize for crying in my arms. There’s nothing to be sorry for. While we get through loss, we don’t necessarily get over it. We grow stronger. We find ways to remember and to focus on the good. Our culture seems to expect to just move on, with a stiff upper lip that doesn’t tremble at the mention of a loved one’s name. And if you can do that, wonderful. But for those times when that ache comes over us, it’s helpful to accept that sadness as part of life. It just means that we are human, that we love deeply, and that we still honor those who loved us.
If you are interested in learning more, Epstein’s upcoming book is called “The Trauma of Everyday Life”.
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