How many times have you heard a person talk about getting closure? The conversation usually goes something like this: “It is good that they are having a funeral service in a few days so the family can get closure.” Or maybe something like this, “Now that they have made it through the first year without their loved one, they should have closure.” We should note that the second year is actually often more difficult emotionally than the first year. We will talk more about the second year grief in the coming pages.
Our society likes to have things neat and clean. Things should be done orderly, follow a step by step agenda, and have a proper timetable. When things don’t fit in the mold that society offers, then it is most often assumed that something is wrong. The same is true for a person in grief. Society will allow you a short time grieve and cry. It is expected after the loss of a loved one for a short period of time. However, if it goes on too long they will reject the person as carrying on with their mourning for too long.
Every culture is a little bit different when it comes to the expression of grief through tears. In the United States we have a melting pot of cultures with a variety of different traditions surrounding grief. However crying or any public display of emotion is generally frowned upon. We have little tolerance for emotional outbursts. Even too much celebrating after scoring points in a ball game will earn you and your team a foul.
Crying is often seen as a sign of weakness. This is a cultural myth in our country. Crying is a reaction to something that triggered emotion or physical pain. Some people cry easily and tears can be a sign of joy or pain. Other people perhaps were raised to never cry or show emotion, and may have a very hard time shedding even one tear. Crying for some people requires a great deal of strength, and courage to share those tears. For other people it takes a great deal of strength and courage to hold back their tears and not cry. Some people, especially at an emotional event such as a funeral, will judge people by how much or little they cry. It’s important to remember that everyone grieves differently, and while some will weep and shed many tears, others may not cry at all.
The expectation of those who grieve in American culture has changed over the years. There was a time when a grieving person was expected to wear black for a period of time, up to a year. This would quickly identify a person in grief and would allow society to offer the proper response. In today’s age of fast food and microwaves, society “doesn’t have time for such niceties”.
You would see different views on grief if you were able to travel back in time a couple of hundred, or even a hundred years ago in American society. Our nation used to be a much more religious one than it is today. Moderation in grieving was expected in those times because excessive crying was seen as a sign of a lack of faith in the...