Victoria Noe

Award-winning Author, Speaker, Activist

The Luxury of Grief

“You have to get over it.”

“It’s time to move on.”

“They wouldn’t want you to be sad.”

I’d like to call for an immediate, international ban on all of the above.

Grieving your friends is hard enough. A lot of people – even those closest to you – just don’t get the depths of your sadness. While they may cut you some slack if you lost a family member, the death of a friend doesn’t usually inspire a lot of compassion.

You may even agree with those pious words of “support”. You may convince yourself that you’re too busy to grieve, especially during the holidays when our busy lives get even busier.

Denying yourself the time to grieve is an invitation for complications down the road. You pat yourself on the back for moving on, for getting over it, for putting on a happy face when others are around.

I think of this kind of denial as an unnecessary challenge to God, who eventually will say, “You think you’re done grieving? Trust me: you haven’t begun to grieve.”

When you avoid or minimize your grief, you’re leaving yourself open for a return visit, when you least expect it.

Maybe you run into a mutual friend, and begin reminiscing about the friend you both lost. Maybe you’re flipping channels and come upon a movie or TV show that your friend loved. Maybe you’re having a bad day and want to pick up the phone to call them, but you can’t.

I deliberately used the word ‘luxury’ to describe grief because that’s how many people think of it: as something we can’t afford to indulge in. But it’s not.

If grief is the price you pay for love, and you loved your friend, then why wouldn’t you grieve? You let them into your life, you loved them, loved your friendship. After all, you are who you are today because of them.

Make a promise to yourself. During the holidays – and all year round – give yourself the luxury of grieving your friend. Honor their absence as you honored their presence. And don’t listen to everyone else. Someday they’ll be in your shoes, and understand all too well.