Who weeps alone? It is not uncommon for individuals who loose a loved one, or even not so loved, on occasions to shed the private tears. However, many people are inclined to keep a "stiff upper lip", put on the brave face and carry on with Life. Having dealt with death for many years as a healthcare professional, seeing and dealing with it first hand, supporting families, and fellow colleagues at a difficult and painful time. I also know that difficult challenge myself, emotionally, physically, spiritually and psychologically over the last couple of years. We were living with, and caring for my father-in-law. He lived with dementia, lung disease and frailty, and unfortunately, died on the 1st of January 2020, whilst at home after an acute infection, and rapid deterioration. We had the privilege to care for him at home during his last days, and again, I was privileged to be holding his hand at his bed side when he died.
Even though he was my father-in-law and could be a challenging individual at times, but then when you got to know him and his story one could understand, I stilled loved him, probably more than I had realised until he died. Even in the past few days I have shed a tear spontaneously, after a memory suddenly came to mind. These spontaneous moments can be triggered, by the slightest thing, a location, phrase, or familiarity of situation. Admittedly, I would attempt to, try and hide my tears, for the benefit of my wife, "needing to be strong for her", but am I?
Many professionals, counsellors, and life experienced elders would tell us that refraining from tears and holding in these emotions is not constructive, for both one's own mental and physical health, I would tend to agree. Therefore, I try to allow myself to be open to my wife, as this shows an affiliation, not similarity, with her pain and grief, supporting one another in, and through the pain and hard times. When one is weak the other is strong and 'visa versa', our strength is gained in jointly supporting each other through the open tears, memories, embraces and talking.
However, in this time of exceptional international circumstances with #lockdown, and #self-isolation due to coronavirus, few have had the opportunity to say their goodbyes, tell their loved ones they love them, had that one last hug, or the opportunity to hold their hands during their last moments. Even more are unable to attend their funeral services. Who weeps alone? Why let them weep alone? A question, an emotional response, a challenge.
We discuss death readily through the medium of the press, radio social media etc, "todays death count is..." all at a distance of course. Is this a depiction of modern society, and the ability to express ones self only through the social postings. After all it is not uncommon to congratulate ones family and friends via a social media post, to express our own self achievements, or personal and political opinions of political situations, and other people's lives. Unfortunately also, we too often hear of the remote bullying, berating, criticising, and verbal assaults of individuals via social media, forums, and posts. However, this not the time to discuss these distant, remote attacks on individuals.
The question is; how do we support, comfort, actually 'be there for' those who weep? In a time when Community is more important than ever, we need to connect, have that sense of belonging, and being part of something, a collective, a social conscience is imperative. So, what can we do? Can we post a card or letter through the box, can we drop off a box of chocolates, leave a pot plant on the doorstep, make a call, be creative. What would I want, would I want to to weep alone....