December 27th, 2006
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Categories: Movies, Quotes & Lyrics

We Are MarshallJosh and I went to see We Are Marshall last night. (A review of the movie written here.) While you may not think a movie about football has anything to do with adoption, well, I might have to agree. There were no prevalent adoption story lines in this movie. However, have you ever been sitting watching a movie or a television show when something jumped out at you, smacked you in the face and forced you to think of either yourself or your adoption situation in a new light or just under a microscope? This happened to me in the movie theatre last night with the following quote:

“Grief is messy.”


So very true. The conversation during which this particular quote occurs is happening between a father who lost his son on the fateful plane crash and the young woman that said son was engaged to marry. The father, having already lost his wife, is trying to explain to the young woman how she needs to go on and live her life. She’s arguing, saying that things have changed. He then comes out with the mentioned gem about grief and then goes on about regret.

But the line about grief stuck out so significantly in my mind.

Grief IS messy. And not one of us deals with our grief in the same manner, nor should we be forced to do so.

There are highs and lows involved with grief. Some seasons and holidays make it harder to deal with while others make it seem like nothing out of the ordinary. And it’s all normal. Crying? Normal. Anger? Normal. Frustration? Normal. Depression? Normal. Not wanting to talk about it? Normal. Only wanting to talk about it? NORMAL.

Grief is messy. And messy is okay. In time, we will make sense of our grief and find the energy to clean it up. Though, as I’m sure you know with some messes, even cleaning it up will leave evidence that a mess has been present. Grass stains. Broken vases. Evidence doesn’t mean that you can’t live your life. It just means that you will always have a bit of mess leftover from your grief.

And that’s okay.

4 Responses to “A Quote on Grief”

  1. pwelborn says:

    If you are saying this because of a child you placed then would not most people take comfort also in knowing you had made the best possible decision for your child. An unselfish act also ! Yes, I know you can never wipe away the things especially that happen around holidays. Such as I wonder what my child is doing now? I wonder what type life he has ? If he is of age, I wonder what kind of girls hes dating? However though natural, it is part of the what if game that human beings play with themselves. There is never an answer to “What if” ! It is the type of game we play that will drive us nuts, make us unstable, and make the Russians win the Cold War if ever another should occur! To play or not to play the “What if” game is a choice. All you can do is to say in reflection “Yes” I made this decision in my child’s best interest and I am comfortable with that decision. Things will slip in, I for one about once a month have a situation unrelated to this blog that when I think about it enough it starts me crying. However it is over quickly ! I think the comfort “should” come in knowing you made the best decision for your child. Whatever others think, you know inside that you did the right thing. For not only you but the child as well and its welfare should be primary. So, I will end by saying, “Cheer Up” All is not lost and life is not a bed of roses.

  2. Hmm, no. My grief doesn’t really lay in what others think. No, that’s where shame comes in. My grief comes from not being with my daughter on a day to day basis.

    Grief is defined as:

    grief /grif/ Pronunciation Key – [greef]
    1. keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.
    2. a cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.

    My grief has nothing to do with what every John or Jane Doe thinks about the fact that I placed the Munchkin and everything to do with my mental suffering and distress over the loss of her physical being in my everyday life.

    Telling a birth parent to “cheer up” is the absolute most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Well, not entirely true. One of the first therapists I saw told me that it would “be easy to get over.” That was THE absolute most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. Cheer up comes in second.

    I am aware that life is not a bed of roses. Which is why I am 100% entitled to feel sad, have bad days and continue to grieve.

    As you don’t know our story, you don’t really know what was in my child’s best interest. and the unselfish act line is fed to us by agencies to make us feel better about ourselves.

    There are days, weeks and months where I wish I would have been selfish. I wanted to be selfish but I was told how great it was that I was being UNselfish.

    That said, platitutes don’t help anyone through their grief. I suggest you look up what not to say to those who are grieving and study it before you reply again.

    Happy New Year.

  3. thomasina says:

    My grandmother always made a huge deal out of Christmas; she made it a warm, wonderful, family time. Since her death fourteen years ago, I have experienced the loss of her presence in my life at many turns,e.g. when I sing a recital (she played piano and sang and was my first voice teacher), when my children do something of which she’d be proud (she was a great lover of kids). However, I miss her most of all at Christmas.

    Because my grandmother always made a huge deal out of Christmas, I did, too, when my children came along. However, even before my grandmother’s death, Christmastime was infused with a grief I was not allowed to share with many people. You see, I am a first/birth mother. I placed my son in closed adoption many years ago and was told to move on. (The circumstances of the adoption are irrelevant here.) Until our reunion sixteen years ago, my son existed in limbo for me. At Christmastime, while I felt joyful watching my other children reveling in traditional family activities, I’d see the empty spot left by the lost boy and experience stomach-knotting grief, and in my case, guilt, because I didn’t know whether he was having a wonderful Christmas with a family who loved him or not. I didn’t know if he was missing me and wondering why his mother didn’t keep him or not.

    What’s interesting to me is that while the reaction to my Christmas longing for my grandmother is generally warm and fuzzy; supportive. Yet, there are so many who would agree with you in finding my grief over the loss of my son, felt so acutely around holidays, to be maladaptive.

    Let’s look at why we grieve in the first place.
    According to Adler (1999), grief is a natural part of the human experience; a psychological and biological reaction to the loss of a relationship. Although people from different cultures experience the complex set of emotions we call grief differently, most experts are comfortable generalizing that it comes in stages and those who experience it are forever changed. I was forever changed by losing my grandmother and everything she brought to my life. I was forever changed by losing the opportunity to have a relationship with my son while he was growing up.

    Two relationships, two losses. One is okay to grief for and one is not. What’s different. Hmmmm. My grandmother was in her seventies, had a basal aneurysm that severely compromised her quality of life. Some would say that she was better off in Heaven than suffering on Earth. However, it’s still okay in everyone’s eyes that I grieve her loss after fourteen years because she was my grandmother. I was sixteen years old when I gave birth to my son. Some would say that I he was better off with an adoptive family than in his family of origin because of my age. (Questionable). Does that mean that I should be able to just shut off my mothering instincts even when every cell in my body cried out to parent him? Still does? If I had been able to do that, how would I turn it back on for subsequent children born under the “right” circumstances?

    I will agree with you that life is not a bed of roses. There are sometimes heavy costs for the benefits (real or imagined) we or those we love receive in life. For example, the advantages a child MAY reap from an adoption plan does not negate the cost to the birth parents. They can’t just turn off their feelings of loss. There is a cost and the currency is grief. Grief, though painful and sometimes destructive, is the currency for loving deeply and for the many advantages the bonds we share as humans, including having been programmed to care for the children to whom we give birth. I venture to say that Darwinians and Creationists would agree that the abiltiy to feel emotions for other humans and to form human attachments are very adaptive behaviors that have allowed our species to survive for so long. So grief may actually be a survival mechanism. Think about it.

  4. Marianne says:

    Cheer up? That was a little cold. pwelborn, just thinking what these women go through on a day to day basis makes me cry for them. The thought of not being able to see my children or grandchildren when I want, tears me up. Cheer up just don’t get it.

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