Every Person Has the Right to Grieve
The title of one’s relationship does not dictate the depth of one’s grief. Each and every person has a right to grieve and receive the support they need, regardless of the relationship to the person deceased.
Six months after my brother Dan died, I attended a theatre performance. Some of Dan’s fellow performers, people whom I had watched him perform with on the exact same stage, were performing in a humorous, almost goofy show. Despite my volatile emotions, as I watched them do the very thing my little brother loved so much, I tried to enjoy the performance.
After the show, I waited around in the small lobby of the theatre in the hope that I might have the opportunity to congratulate a few of Dan’s friends who had performed with him years earlier. I was able to say hello to a couple of them and to thank them for their performance.
A Friend Grieves
It was the last of Dan’s friends to emerge from backstage who left me with a moment I will never forget. When Lauren emerged, I hollered her name to get her attention. While we had met before, it had been several years, so I took a moment to reintroduce myself as Dan’s older sister. She looked at me and started to cry.
Of course she remembered me, she said. She cried as she reminisced about the time that she and Dan had spent working and playing together in previous productions.
Then she stopped, and she apologized to me. She apologized for crying. She apologized because she said she didn’t believe she should be crying when I had lost so much.
Sharing Grief Can Soothe Another
Here’s the thing. Lauren had every right to cry, and I told her as much. Every person has the right to grieve. She had every right to grieve, because Dan was her friend.
In fact, her grief was soothing to me because she remembered Dan too, and she felt his loss was worthy of her tears. I will forever be grateful to Lauren and for the valuable lesson she taught me. I recognized in that moment that her grief was no less valid than mine, it was just different. Everyone has the right to grieve.
I fully admit that I do not know what it is like to lose a child, and God-willing, I will never know that loss. I don’t know what it is to lose a parent or a spouse. What I do know is what it’s like to lose my only sibling, my grandparents, an aunt, a cousin, great-aunts and uncles, friends, and pets.
Our Grief is Ours
What I know is that, in each case, my grief was mine. Some losses were more profoundly felt than others based on my age at the time, the depth or closeness of my relationship with the person who died, and the circumstances surrounding the death. But all grief was valid for me.
There should be no hierarchy of grief, especially if it shames some into hiding their grief.
I see you. Your grief is valid. My grief is valid. Grief sucks, and I am sorry that this loss is part of our stories.
Amy K. L. Busch is the author of Permission to Grieve: A Journey from Sibling Loss to Restored Hope: Busch, Amy K L: 9781736121702: Amazon.com: Books.
To read about the death of a sibling by suicide, click here: Sibling Loss: Interview with Stephen Stott – Open to Hope.