“Why am I still hurting so badly?” the email implores of me, the writer speaking of her ten-year-old divorce.
As I read her message that details her divorce and her continued and prolonged sadness, I found myself thinking about how the modern western world handles death.
Before the rise of the modern medical and funeral industries, death was truly a family affair. Most people died at home, where there bodies were then washed and dressed by their loved ones. This intimate experience provided an opportunity for the survivors to come to terms with the loss and to grieve together. Denial or avoidance of the reality was simply not an option; there was too much to do.
Death has now become sanitized. Distanced. We have the ability to turn away when it becomes too much. We can keep the discomfort at arm’s length while we fill our minds with no shortage of distractions. By avoiding the grief, we prolong the grief.
And we’ve gotten quite adept at avoiding pain.
Not only when it comes to death, but also when it comes to divorce.
At first, it seems ideal to try to give the pain a wide berth. After all, we’re often advised, “If it hurts, don’t do it.” But sometimes that detour around the discomfort is an endless path and the only way out is through the thick of the heartbreak. Here, let me guide you.