Dangerous Words: “I defeated grief”

I believe I have defeated grief. What does it mean to defeat grief? Ask one hundred people that question and I suspect you get one hundred very unique answers. I can describe what that means to me, but does it really matter what it means to me?

In its very basic definition it invokes the idea of duality. You either win or you lose, so if I have defeated grief, am I in effect saying that I won? I read an article recently wherein the author was taking exception to Sheryl Sandberg’s personal story of losing a spouse, as she shared in her book, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy. Ms Sandberg is an American executive, currently COO at Facebook.

The author of the article took issue with Sandberg’s journey through grief, and was particularly bothered by the words used by Ms Sandberg in her book. Words Matter was the heading of a section in the article where she took issue how Sandberg described her journey with resilience, overcoming, recovering, and control. She suggested that if one followed Ms Sandberg’s advice you would view grief as a monster to be beaten. And that’s not how one should approach grief. 

I differ with the author in that I believe words DO NOT matter. At least, not in how we choose to define grief. My definition of pain in grieving is almost certainly going to differ from yours. I have only skimmed Option B and I must say I have little in common with Ms Sandberg’s path through grief other than to say that for me, grief was a monster to be avoided. I wanted to defeat grief. And I did.

In defeating grief, does that mean I have left Crystle in the past? Far from it. She is with me in my thoughts every day. I miss her fiercely and wear her wedding ring on a chain around my neck to remind me of her every day. At times I am overcome with sadness and I weep in her absence. I allow those moments to come and go. But I still feel I have defeated grief.

Words can be dangerous. Please allow me to carry the belief that I have defeated grief. 

The most important thing for us to do as we support each other in grief is to allow each of us to walk our own path. Whatever that looks like, we all have the right to grieve in our own way. The author of the article handled grief very differently than I would want to, at least in the words she used to define her grief. I support her in her journey, and who knows, if we take away the words, maybe we live our lives in much the same way.

For me, I defeated grief.