Probably all of us are familiar with the childhood game of hide and seek.  Some of us have not only played this game ourselves as children but have gone onto play it with our own children and even grandchildren.  Today, as I thought about my own grief and yours, I was reminded of this game and how many of us still play this in our adult life.

When our grief becomes bigger than life and bigger than we can manage, very often, what we do is try to hide from it. We do this in many ways: eating when we are not hungry; sleeping when we are not tired; going anywhere that takes us away from home and our memories and the thousand and one reminders.

Some of us hide in one more drink, some go shopping. Some gamble, some pretend, some lose themselves in the problems of others, facing other people’s pain rather than their own. Our hiding places can be the corner bar, the place we work where we bury ourselves in our work, the television where for endless hours we can live someone else’s life, the golf course as we hit one more ball.

Sometimes these are hiding places, sometimes they are our way of seeking, of looking for what we cannot find, the face and body and presence of our loved ones.   This is when we realize that life, like some games, is not always fair.  In hide and seek, we are supposed to find the person but now no matter where we look or how hard, we come up empty.  Sometimes that makes us angry, our pain worse, or our sense of failure greater.

Hiding is not always wrong or bad. Sometimes we need to hide or to take a break or mini-vacation from our pain.

It is important though to take some time to recognize what our individual hiding places are.  If we find we are hiding more and more or for longer periods each day, it is important to talk with someone about that who can help.

The truth is that none of us can hide forever and hiding from or denying our pain and grief will only make everyday that much harder. So be gentle with yourselves. Let your heart feel what it feels and in your seeking, let others in along the way. Though you cannot find your loved one as he or she was, when you are ready their presence will find you.

Hiding from our grief only keeps it hidden deep within our hearts. When we learn to give up hiding and let grief out, it is our loved ones who occupy the space in our hearts.

Deb Kosmer 2011

Deb Kosmer

Deb has worked at Affinity Visiting Nurses Hospice for ten years, the first two as a hospice social worker and the last eight as Bereavement Support Coordinator supporting families before and after the death of their loved ones. She provides supportive counseling, developed and facilitates a variety of grief support groups, including a well-attended group for men only as well as other educational events. Deb received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from UW-Oshkosh and her Master’s degree in Social Work from UW Milwaukee. She received her certification in Thanatology through ADEC. Her writing has appeared in New Leaf Magazine, We Need Not Walk Alone, Living with Loss, Grief Digest, numerous hospice publications and EAP publications. Some of her poetry on death and dying will be included in a college textbook for social workers in end of life soon. New Leaf has also used some of her poetry for a line of sympathy and anniversary of death cards. On a personal level, Deb's 14-year-old son died after being struck by a car. Her 31-year-old sister had died in a car accident eight months earlier, and her 56-year-old father died from a heart attack exactly three years before. These three unexpected deaths within three years started Deb on a journey she never wanted to be on and she learned first-hand the importance of having the help and support of others. In the years since, she has experienced other losses, the most recent being the unexpected death of her 44-year-old step-daughter who died from complications three months after routine surgery. Deb's passions are writing, reading, education, nature, and family. She is currently working on a book of her grief poetry. She recently moved with her husband to Waypost Camp, Hatley WI. Her husband accepted a job there as Property Manager and his position allows them to live on-site with acres of woods and a lake. She anticipates the quiet beauty to be a strong catalyst for writing.

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