A couple of weeks ago I wrote about my daughter Christina moving out of the house to go to NYC. Her brother Patrick moved out to school the following week and her older sister Katherine moves out on Tuesday. Much to my youngest son Christopher’s horror, he now has me all alone — though Christina says he might enjoy the alone time. …I’ll keep you updated.
Change is in the air. Everywhere I look, I see and feel change. And change often involves grief.
That five-letter word.
It’s almost worse to mention than the four-letter words kids got their mouth washed out with soap for saying when I was growing up.
I wanted to share part of the forward I wrote for the best-seller, On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss, in stores now. It’s been re-released because there is never a shortage of people who are grieving.
You can grieve the death of a loved one. A friendship can be lost and you grieve. You lose a job and you grieve. A relationship breaks up, a child leaves home. It’s all loss, it’s all change. There is no one right way to grieve but it’s important to know that your way is ok.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is a legend in the work of grief and it was an honor to write this new forward.
Why? Because grief is something we all experience but rarely discuss. It comes in all kinds of ways and at all different times. I thought about it a lot these past weeks watching James Foley’s parents, Michael Brown’s parents and the Williams family begin their grieving in such a public way. Millions go through this every day. Away from the press and often away from support, solace or sensitivity.
I hope On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss helps you. It helped me. #PassItForward
Over the course of my lifetime I have come to know grief in its many forms. Not just through the deaths of family and friends, but also in the feelings of loss that come with the inevitable life changes we all endure. In my struggles to sort through the sweeping mix of emotions that come with grief, I have found myself endlessly grateful for Elisabeth Kübler- Ross’s work, and in particular for this book by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler.
…I grew up in a family that had lots of tragedy, but no one ever discussed it. I moved through these experiences, trying to make sense of the losses, without any guidance or framework for how to understand them. When I became an adult I realized that I was still trying to process what had happened, and I thought to myself that there must be a better way.
…When my mother died four years ago I experienced the true depths of grief. I remember thinking when I was younger that if anything ever happened to my mother I would never be able to survive. And then she died, and I had to face it; I had to really feel it. It brought me to my knees. Then my uncle died two weeks after that. And then my father died a year and a half later. I was steeped in grief.
It was an incredibly lonely experience. I felt very isolated. My world stopped while everything continued on around me. In my search for solace I found comfort in others who had gone through a death or multiple deaths. Every time I came across someone else’s story of grief I felt a little less alone. And this is exactly why this book by Kübler-Ross and Kessler is so important. When you’re grieving, sometimes your only constant companion is a book.
My children’s book about grief, What’s Heaven?, was born out of this understanding. When my grandmother died, my children had so many questions. Their questions made me realize that I was just as childlike in my understanding of grief as they were. I felt this need to address the curiosity we all have about loss in its many forms, including grieving a pet. People thought this book wouldn’t sell, and then it went on to tremendous success, proving just how thirsty our culture is for the conversation about loss and how we cope with it.
…Grief has made me brave. In opening up to it, in allowing myself to really feel it, I have grown stronger. But in order to do that I needed to hear the message that it was okay and in fact crucial to grieve. In this important book, Kübler-Ross and Kessler told me that it was okay. They told all of us that it is okay.
Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was the mother of a movement that began to make grief a real conversation. As a culture we must collectively carry her torch. We must finish what she began. We must let out our wails in unison, reminding the world that grief is real, that it is a part of the human condition, and that we will all survive.
Copyright © 2014 by Maria Shriver. The New Foreword to On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D. & David Kessler.