Grief Uncovered

We have begun the process of written interviews with some individuals in our life. We are asking a number of people the same three questions in order to showcase the broad spectrum of grief- what we learn from it, how our perceptions of it have changed, etc. We are excited to post the second in the series.

The three questions posed to each participant are:

  1. What is your experience with grief?
  2. What were your perceptions of grief before?
  3. How have they changed or been proven true?

Thanks to Jeremy Allen for being real with us and sharing his thoughts on each of these questions.

  1. What is your experience with grief? 

I am a funeral director, embalmer and funeral home owner that has been walking alongside families during times of loss for nearly 18 years. My experience with grief has been a shared journey of personal and professional. Sometimes a combination of both, including the times I had the opportunity to care for my three of my grandparents when they passed away. This was always such a delicate balance of trying to honour my personal relationships with them while fulfilling my professional responsibilities and care for them.

2. What were your perceptions of grief before? 

Prior to being a funeral professional, I had very little exposure to grief. My closest experience was when one of my cousin’s died in a motor vehicle accident when I was 14. I remember going to the funeral home to see her and then attending her funeral. I remember watching the emotion of the experience pour out of my aunts and uncles and just feeling something incredibly big going on inside my body and mind that I didn’t have the words for. Grief is this mysterious place that is unavoidable in life, but when I watched the three generations of our family collect in those meaningful moments, it was obvious that nobody had a clue how to talk about it or be able to put to words how they were feeling. Looking back at when Tamara died and what that experience felt like as a family, has undoubtedly shaped my outcome and desire to learn to talk about grief so openly and in a way that makes sense to everyone, kids included.

3. How have they changed or been proven true? 

As I have grown as a person through this professional lens, I have learned that grief is our emotional and behavioural response to loss. Not specifically to death. Meaning, in life, we walk through incredible seasons of loss outside of people we love dying. It has become incredibly important to learn how to identify these seasons and moments so that we can learn to properly acknowledge the emotions that are attached to the experience. I look at it as an opportunity to practice in less intense environments so that when, not if, we lose someone we love to death, we have existing knowledge and skills to have access to, whether that is consciously or subconsciously. Acknowledgement is an incredibly powerful tool in grief and loss. One of my favourite quotes about this is from Parker Palmer who says, “The human soul does not want to be advised or fixed or saved, it simply wants to be witnessed exactly as it is.” Let us learn to genuinely see one another is our darkest hours of grief, without trying to fix or save me. Powerful stuff!

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