Everything I Needed To Know I Didn’t Learn In Kindergarten
By Kristin VanHeyningen, Chaplain, Genesis Hospice
There are a lot of places where we learn…
Where do we learn things? Not ABCs and 123s, but how to live and interact? How to be a “good” person and respond “properly”? How to love and how to grieve?
There are a lot of answers to these questions. There are a lot of places where we learn – from our families, from friends, from society, from television and movies. How did our parents respond when their parents died? How did our friends show their grief? What do we see others doing that makes sense to us? What images and messages are conveyed through the media and social media that pervades so much of our lives?
We do learn in schools and in our families. We learn in our churches, synagogues and temples. We learn from our friends and our idols. And, we learn from television shows, song lyrics, and movies. And all of these places teach us wonderful lessons – knowingly or not. But, these places have a hard time teaching us about death, about loss, about grief, and about finding new ways to move forward.
A Realistic, Helpful Lesson
…moving on to the next story line.
I was watching a British show on PBS, “Call the Midwife.” There was a tragic death, and one of the midwives was struggling to find hope again. In one of the last scenes, she meets someone who has also experienced great loss.
The older Jewish woman says, “You will feel better than this, maybe not yet, but you will.”
The young midwife asks, “Will I?”
And the very wise answer comes “Yes, you just keep living until you are alive again.”
Most television shows do not have such a realistic, helpful lesson. Too often we see death as a simple, timely departure. The dying person gasps out a final confession of love, admission of guilt, statement of closure, and then stops breathing, turning their head gently to the side. Following this, life simply continues for everyone else involved. There may be a scene or two of mourning, possibly a funeral or graveside service, and then… moving on to the next story line.
This wisdom could have only been shared by someone
who also knew the depths of grief and lived into life again.
Life and loss is seldom this clean, timely, or convenient; and rarely can we simply move on to the next story. Encouraging honest conversations, expressing our own feelings, experiences, vulnerabilities, and insights may help us to move through the grief while helping others to know that their experiences are valued, important, real, and normal.
We may not have learned how to process grief and build new hope in kindergarten; we may not have learned all we needed to know through family, church, community, and entertainment. Therefore, we need to continue to teach and learn, share and grow so that we too can know that the important thing is not to “get over it,” but to “keep living until you are alive again.”
This wisdom could have only been shared by someone who also knew the depths of grief and lived into life again; this wisdom could only be heard by someone in the midst of the shock and sadness. Through the meeting of these two, and their openness to share with one another, both were made a bit more alive.
Where Help Is
Genesis Grief Support Cooperative envisions a community where everyone going through a grief journey has the support they need to find healing from significant loss. Grief specialists are here to help every grieving person in need.
We can help you or someone you know, too. Visit genesishealth.com/grief for more information or to schedule an appointment. You may also contact a Genesis Grief Support staff via our Grief Support Helpline at 563-421-5000.
If you desire to talk with a grief support specialist, simply fill out the form below. Our staff will contact you to schedule an appointment at your earliest convenience: