Monday, September 28, 2009

SUCK IT UP and other condolences

"Try Google". There's another good one.

You'd think it'd be obvious . . . in the handbook somewhere:  SUCK IT UP is not an expression of sympathy.

Monday of Week Four, I was overcome with grief in the middle of my work day; sobbing behind my office door. For the past week, I was increasingly overcome by grief, uncontrollable crying "out of nowhere, and felt as if I couldn’t function, debilitated.

All I knew to do was something that's very uncomfortable for me - especially when my mood is dark - ask for help.  It was about to become a feral survival cry.

I turned to a few trusted friends who I thought might know of some bereavement groups. I called my former shrink (referred me to someone for $200/hour). A therapist acquaintance didn't know of any groups but asked if I tried Google (what's the best search string for that? "so sad I can't function" or maybe just "HELP ME!"). Nothing I was looking for.

When I got home from work one night, I received a mailing from the hospice service telling me about their "bereavement team," outlining the services it provided: bereavement support telephone calls and visits by professional staff and volunteers, support groups, community resource referrals to grief therapists and support groups. It was exactly the lifeline for which I'd been desperately praying. I could get help at last. There was a place for me that actually invited me to turn to them.

I called and left a message. No one returned my call. Truly concerned about my own wellbeing, I called the social worker from the hospice service that took such beautiful care of my Mom and I in those last two weeks. Surely, she would understand and put me in touch with bereveament team.

Sobbing and barely able to breathe, I told her I was at work and the grief that was increasingly overcoming me. "You're just going to have to SUCK IT UP." "It dishonors your Mother's legacy to be falling apart this way." "I have to go," I said; "thank you." 

Perhaps she thought a verbal slap across the face would snap me out of my hysteria. It did not. I was not simply looking for puerile indulgence. After only three weeks since my Mom died, I needed a tether to sanity - not Fellini's Satyricon.

It's now Week Six. No one from the "bereavement team" has called. 

I have, however, formed my own team.  Apparently, I'm the charter member and team captain.  Other members of the team?  My treasured friends, the Center for Loss and Renewal and Center for Bereavement (support groups I found through GOOGLE!), and this space.


  1. I had to comment about that awful "bereavement team" that didn't return your call. That is disgraceful. Do they charge a fee for their services? As for people telling you to just suck it up, shame on them. I think there would be softer, kinder words to use when appropriate, which is not this soon after a lost.

    Good for you finding support via the internet.

  2. I work in end-of-life care and cannot believe someone told you to "suck it up." In my experience, this is a very unusual response from a hospice worker. Most would give support, compassion and acceptance of whatever you are feeling. I'm sorry this was your experience and glad you found resources elsewhere.