Shuck and Jive

Opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent the views of the congregation I joyfully serve. But my congregation loves me!

Thursday, August 23, 2012


The song that keeps running through my head is "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away" by the Beatles.   Before all the Beatlemaniacs tell me what the song "means" or "meant" for me it is about grief.   Grief is Love.   Grief is Love that has lost its object.   It doesn't matter whether the grief is over a breakup or a death, the song speaks about the loneliness of grief, its shame and its social stigma.     Here are the lyrics
Here I stand head in hand
Turn my face to the wall
No that won't do.  You've got to hide your grief away.  Hide it away.  We don't want to see it.  Take it to a shrink or to a group or to your momma but don't show it.   Your time is up.  We have to move on.  When are you going to get better?  When will you be your old self again?   When are you going to get to that "new normal?"   No one is saying this.  This is my projection even as it isn't just my projection.   No one wants to see people grieving forever.   So for those who do wonder when I am going to be my old self again, I do have an answer.   Here it is.   I will be better on April 1, 2075 at 3:30 p.m.  Can you wait that long? 

The astute observer will note that the patient is starting to get in touch with his anger.   It reveals itself in sarcasm and painful witticisms.    When approaching the patient take care not to do the following or you may lose your eye teeth.
  1. Mention God.  The patient and the Divine Master of the Universe are not on speaking terms.  No theological acumen on your part will do anything to change that.
  2. Attempt to cheer up the patient or say something "hopeful" such as "Someday you will grow from this."   Grrrrr.
  3. Give advice to the patient of any kind about any thing.  Period.
I know this is confusing.  It is one thing to respond to someone's hurt and pain.  It is totally another to try to respond to anger.   The most important thing to know about "the patient" is that if you do run into anger, remember it is not about you.   You could note that the sky is blue and I might trip out on you.   I have changed, not anyone else.    Those of us who are grieving may not even know what these feelings are about and where they are directed.    The sad part is that "the patient" may drive away those s/he needs most.  At least that is what the patient fears.

So, please, hang in there with the patient and keep trying.

For those wanting to be present with someone in grief, here are some suggestions


  1. Yeah, I can understand that projection. The person who needs most to be patient with the patient IS the patient.

  2. Hi John. First of all, hugs. I am so sorry for your loss. It is beyond comprehension -- which might begin to explain why people are being so stupid about it.

    Your post brought back memories of my experiences following my mother's death (12 years ago as of yesterday). People said a lot of dumb things, mostly with good intentions, but as the linked article said, it really does delay the healing process.

    I'm shocked and saddened to read that you have people expecting you to get back to "normal," when it hasn't even been two months! That is crazy! Human beings fail at empathy so badly.

    And it's almost comical to me that anyone would mention God to you in their attempt to problem-solve your grief. Deploying armchair theology on a minister! That's got to be the height of arrogance.

    I remember people trying to comfort me by saying, "Don't be sad. She's with Jesus now." My response was, "Jesus doesn't need her. I do."

    And even though I still feel my mom's death was way premature (she was 64), it is the natural order of things for a child to lose a parent. But to lose a child? No. There is no explaining that away.

    Again, I'm so sorry for your loss, and I'm sorry that people suck at being with grief. I hope there are some exceptions to that in your vicinity.

    Miss Music Nerd

  3. @Snad could be...

    @Miss Music Thanks for the hugs. As I wrote no one has said anything, this is projection. It is no fun projecting my crap if I don't pretend it is real. This isn't about anyone else. No one sucks at it. It just sucks. This is about life and grief and being human. I just wanted to warn people that I am bitchy and if you catch it it is not about you. It is an FYI in advance.

    @Dr. Well, that is the best offer I have had. Five years ago I would have taken you up on it. Now I can't even drink this away.

  4. John--FWIW, I'm just sitting here with you....


  5. John, I'm so sorry that your son died. I can't imagine the grief and suffering it would be for you. I am very sorry you have lost your son.

    Debbie Berkley
    Bellevue, WA

  6. Thank you, Debbie. I appreciate that...

  7. You are on your way through the needle's eye. Unlike a lot of people, who deny the process, you seem to be taking the time to notice the size and shape of the hole. What emerges on the other side already shows signs of being awesome.