One of the first people I interviewed for my master's thesis, which is now my book, was a grief counselor at a hospice program in Colorado. Her job scared me. I couldn't fathom going to work each day and having to deal with so much sadness. I had a hard enough time dealing with the office politics at my own boring day job at the time, so the thought of this woman's daily interactions with grieving people made me nervous. It's not that I have ice water running through my veins, it's just that I have a tendency to absorb the emotions of those around me like a sponge. I naturally assumed that to do her job effectively she would have to put some sort of emotional safeguard up between her and the patient. Like most people who make assumptions, I made an ass out of me. This woman told me that the day she stopped feeling was the day she would have to quit.
Grief is a funny thing. Not ha-ha funny, but curious funny. Even if you've never experienced a loss, you've probably heard of Kubler-Ross's Five Stages of Grief, which has been debated recently. What I've learned through my journey into death is that there is no expiration date for grief, nor is there a right or a wrong way to grieve. Some people want comfort, while some people want to be left alone to figure it out for themselves. Recently there has been a movement to classify complicated grief as a mental disorder. I think that's totally wrong, but that's just my humble opinion.
I have yet to experience a major loss, so I don't know how I'll grieve or how long it will take to "recover," if there is such a thing. (Don't even get me started on closure.) I've experienced two miscarriages, the death of five beloved pets, and I've had a few relationships end badly, so I've gotten a taste of those emotions, but I'm not sure I've felt the full wallop yet. I know it's nothing I can avoid. It will happen. How can it not?