It’s OK to Never ‘Get Over’ Your Grief


From The New York Times: “Over the past century, traditional mourning practices have fallen out of favor in the West. Black is now usually worn only to a funeral, and not always then. Fewer and fewer people return to visit the deceased at their place of rest regularly; annual memorial services are especially rare. The sight of someone wearing mourning jewelry made of jet can strike a modern observer as a touch macabre. We are not supposed to hang on so tightly to those who are, after all, gone.

But traditional mourning practices were designed to do just that: to preserve a place for the dead among the living, to help mourners carry the weight of their grief not by getting over it but by maintaining their relationship with the deceased (as metaphysically suspect as that might sound to modern ears). That approach to mourning has been displaced by one that focuses more on coming to terms with the reality of loss, liberating sufferers from the burden that those emotional bonds — now untethered to a living being — might impose.

. . . This approach to grief and mourning might seem to be a good thing, like picking yourself up after a fall. It is arguably less morbid, with its emphasis on ‘getting closure’ and ‘moving on’ in a process whose goal is ‘healing.’ But I fear the benefits do not outweigh the costs.”

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