By Tracy Lee
Last night, I was surfing social media when I came upon a friend’s post stating that upon reflection, he was taking a break from social media. He stated that since the passing of his wife six months ago, his opinion posting had become offensive to his son. He was confused and hurt by his son’s chastisements, and to discontinue causing his son discomfort or embarrassment, he had concluded that his withdrawal was in order. His post was filled with sadness, despair, pain, and anguish. Regret was apparent that he had not foreseen that his posts might wedge a wound in his father/son relationship, and he was solemnly announcing his intention to bend to his son’s harsh rebuke.
To show my support of this man’s right to post his opinion on a social media platform based solely on opinion posting, I went through his history and began liking every one of his opinion posts with which I could agree. It was not enough though. As I lay in my bed last night, I found that sleep was elusive. I tossed and turned all night worrying about this friend.
Grief Brief 7
People who have recently lost a loved one may tend to withdraw from family or friends in intimate and social situations.
This tendency is generally brief and usually corrects itself without intervention.
If one continues to withdraw from social interactions over an extended length of time, one might find it comforting to consult with a counselor.
(Mourning Light I, Tracy Reneé Lee)
Herein lies the problem. This social media friend of mine had found an outlet for the frustration, anxiety, and loneliness that accompany grief recovery. He was using social media to express himself and guard against total social withdrawal. Indeed, his posts may have become more and more opinionated lately, but with the loss of his dear wife, he had found a healthy, non-threatening outlet for the expression of grief’s intense anger.
Grief Brief 24
Anger is common among the bereaved. It is generally brought on through anxiety, panic, and frustration.
It is important to properly direct anger at the grim reaper rather than toward others.
Realizing that the absence of your loved one has caused your emotional issues will help you move beyond the anger and develop the necessary skills for recovery.
The most dangerous adaption to intense anger is to turn on oneself.
Mourners who inflict their anger on themselves run the risk of developing self-loathing and in more severe cases, may fall prey to suicide.
If you are suffering extreme anger for an extended time and find that, you are unable to control yourself emotionally or physically, consider seeking assistance.
(Mourning Light I, Tracy Reneé Lee)
Upon rising this morning, I immediately went to my computer to send my social media friend a message. I wanted to encourage him not to give up his social media posting – his anger management tool. I wanted to encourage him to explain to his son that although his posts may seem extremely opinionated, that they were written neither to embarrass nor cause discomfort to him. They were merely an example of the rage within his soul at the confusion and loneliness of life without his beloved beside him.
As a grief counselor, I believe my social media friend had found a way to organize and channel his anger over the loss of his wife in a safe and nonintrusive manner to anyone. He was able to outwardly project his frustration toward social issues rather than inwardly toward himself. Anyone not agreeing with his posts or finding offense in them could merely opt to hide, disregard, or post an opposing opinion. As time passes, I believe my friend would have come to terms with his loss and would have begun toning down his social issue posts. As grief recovery occurred, he and his son would have most likely been able to return to a place where they would be able to share social ideas and discuss them calmly. My advice to his son would have been to simply check the little box to temporarily hide his father’s posts until he felt more comfortable with them.
Unfortunately, as I opened my social media page this morning and searched my friend’s name, he was nowhere to be found. He had withdrawn his profile and closed his page from social media. My fear is that his frustration, anxiety, and loneliness will now redirect itself inwardly. He has endured a rejection of the most profound nature, the rejection of one’s child. Such a rejection, in concert with the loss of his beloved, may very well prove to be too much to endure.
I do not know who his son is or I would contact him and explain the enormity of the situation. I tried searching my friend on the internet this morning to find him and contact him directly; I was unsuccessful. Unfortunately, the newspaper within his geographical location does not carry my bereavement articles, so I will not be able to reach him through written word either. I am at a loss this morning on how I might reach him. I believe this man needs support. I believe he needs support today, or tomorrow may never come for him.
Grief is a difficult issue to broach. Unfortunately, well-intentioned friends and loved ones often do not understand the actions of the bereaved. Well-intentioned advice sometimes affects the bereaved as continued rejection and catapults them into a reeling suction of despair. After reading my social media friend’s post last night about his son’s rejection of him, I hope that I do not soon read an obituary referencing the tragic loss of a widowed father, too desperate to continue on with life.
One cannot, however, place the blame upon the son should the unthinkable transpire. The son, as well as the father, is suffering the ill effects of bereavement. His actions are filled with frustration, anxiety, and loneliness too. While in the depths of struggle himself, he is most likely at his wit’s end trying to understand how he might help his father overcome this devastation. He probably feels that his father has lost control over his emotions and that exercising restraint will help him regain his composure, his sanity, and perhaps even some resemblance of happiness. This is a grief myth.
Both father and son are grappling for recovery. They are lost in a sea of misinformation and confusion. Their minds are disorganized as they struggle and search for the life that was once theirs but will never again return to normal. They, like so many others, hit a speed bump in the road toward recovery last night, and rather than reaching out and holding onto each other tightly, they flew off in different directions. This separation may prove too severe for them to right. I hope not. I hope that they reevaluate the course this exchange has produced. That as lost ships, they will redirect and chart a new course that will allow them to find, assist, and love each other for the rest of their lives.
Grief has the ability to rip families, friends, and lives apart. It is incumbent upon us to learn and understand the difficulties the bereaved endure and endeavor to assist them in their battle to find peace.
The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect those of the Sun.
Tracy Lee can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org