Please Don’t Tell Me How To Grieve By Rick London

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Today on social media, I saw a friend instructing others, basically how to react to bad news, or as we often call it in our culture, “grieve”.   I was astonished this extremely bright man, though, I assume meant well, didn’t have the facts. Not even one of them. 


     He sounded just like my college yoga instructor.  “Turn off the news.  Breathe deeply.  Now exhale.  See you’re still there…”. Yada yada.

     So much research has been conducted and proven since Elizabeth Kubler-Ross penned her blockbuster “On Death And Dying” about a ½ century ago, that her book looks more like an instructional manual for one who has never shed a tear.

     My friend who “was trying to help” hadn’t gotten the memo that everyone reacts to bad news and/or grief differently.   Some elements that can affect the way we grieve can be our sex, whether we are adults or children, how many are in our home, our education, our health, and a zillion other factors. In other words as far as our behavior of good news or bad, this is not a “one size fits all world”.

    2013, for us, my beloved wife Lee and I, has in many ways not been positive.  We love each other dearly and that is positive, but we are still trying to process what happened in Newtown, how to some owning a non-common use gun (which is not protected in the 2nd Amendment) is more important, no…. WAY more important than the lives of 20 children (really babies), and that 3 in the Boston Marathon audience perished and many more maimed for life which happened this week.  There was no reason that Lee and I could see, or still see, that that had to happen (nor Newtown of course). 

    So what we do is, even while working, is watch the news.  Yes we switch between the three major networks because to us, that is how one gets “the real story” and not just the slant one wants to hear. We learn everything we can.  We read newspapers and periodicals worldwide on the Internet.  

    As most who know us, in whatever method we decide to grieve and/or process,  we usually head toward the mountain trails and forget about everything for several hours.  When we return, we intuitively have a better option of how to deal.  Nature is a positive force for us that way.  But it might not be for everybody.  And we understand that.  Some may need to sit still.  Some do yoga.  Some watch tv.  Some watch The Comedy Channel.  Some visit friends and talking about it (or not).

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    Again, it’s not a “one size fits all world”.   If someone instructs me that I must turn off the news of Boston and breathe deeply again, or I’m not doing it right, I plan to turn it up and full volume and hold my breath.  I bet I can talk Lee into doing the same.



Rick London is a writer, cartoonist and designer who founded Google’s #1 ranked Londons Times Offbeat Cartoons and Funny Gifts in 1997. He and his wife Lee Hiller-London live in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas where they enjoy nature and hiking. They are active in environmental and animal causes.  Lee owns several nature photography shops including on nature and wildlife posters Lee HillerPhotography.

3 thoughts on “Please Don’t Tell Me How To Grieve By Rick London

  1. Each of us must find our own path to grieve. Those who seek to direct the emotions of others want the world to follow their beliefs. They want comfort in conformity to satisfy their needs of the grief process. Grief is personal to each Soul, we should not try to direct how others process this personal pain. Well written Baby! Love your LW Lee xx00xx

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