Meeting at the National Alliance for Grieving Children, Dr. Gloria Horsley and Donna Shuurman meet to talk about healing after a loss. Schuurman is the executive director of The Dougy Center in Portland, Oregon, and lost a sister before she was born. Shuurman worked in bereavement for 15 years, and never knew why she was drawn to the work. Years later, she found out that her parents (18 and 19 at the time) had a child who was a girl. She died five days after birth. Every June, her mother would get depressed and her father would say, “It’s about that baby, but by the fourth of July she’ll be better.”
They were taught “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and never heard much more. When Shuurman was in her 40s, she realized how much her parent’s own unaddressed grief affected her. She called her mother, who isn’t one to wear her heart on her sleeve. She asked to hear the story, and thought her mother might hang up. Instead, her mother talked for three hours. It was the first time her mother talked about it, and the first time anyone had really asked.
Moving Forward and Upward
It’s never too late to look into grief and bereavement issues. It led to a lot of healing for both women, and changed their relationship for the better. Now, their bond is stronger and there was a softening. Her mother told her all the details, such as the baby’s mouth and fingers even 65 years later. It’s not too late to heal those grieving feelings, and that can also help you deal with current grief.
Shuurman doesn’t like the term “resolved grief” because she says grief can’t be resolved. There are always layers, but you can certainly tackle untouched grief.