To Thine Own Self Be True….Shakespeare uses this line in Hamlet, and this phrase has multiple meanings. The first meaning is that someone can better judge himself if he has done what he should or could have done. The second meaning is that one must be honest in his ways and relations. The third meaning is that one must always do the right thing. ‘True’ can also mean beneficial; therefore, his advice to his son meant that he must think of his own benefit first. https://literarydevices.net/to-thine-own-self-be-true/
These words came to me as I read over and over again, in different online groups, mother’s and father’s being ostracized for the way they deal with their grief of loosing their child. Why? “Get over it, You need to move on, you need to get rid of those clothes,” and many other harmful words aimed at the grieving person. I had a pretty good idea why, but I decided to double check my Psychology degree. With just a quick search in Psychology Today, I found what I was looking for, I call it the mirror effect.
When we criticize someone, it is because we see ourselves in the reflection of the criticism. It is a form of ego defense it is not because we disagree with the behavior. We feel devalued by the behavior. http://www.Psycholgytoday.com The way we as grieving people deal with our loss makes some people feel personally insulted and it makes them feel very uncomfortable.
I remember when I decided to have a third child and then a fourth. I had a close girlfriend who was actually disgusted in my choice. She had one child and I know somehow she felt it reflected on her choice to only have one child that she could never imagine making my choice. The truth is we all do this to some extent, just know that you might have your own ego involved when you criticize.
The truth is, each of your lives, whoever you are grieving, matters. Your might be grieving your child, your niece, your grandchild, your husband, or sister. To Thine Own Self Be True, is posted in one blog I read as self serving, and in a way it is. You are valuing your own life, you are doing what you need to do to survive, to go on. You might need to hike the Pacific Coast Trail, spread your loved ones ashes at the Pirates of the Caribbean, or Grand Canyon, make their clothes into quilts or teddy bears, make scented candles, form an organization, write a book, plant a tree, built a garden, a plaque where they loved, frame their pictures, create art, scream in an empty field, leave their room the way it is, leave their clothes in the closet, post a picture every day, try acupuncture, therapy, walk or run, medication, prayer, or have days where you hide under the covers and sob.
In nursing school I remember being taught about pain. Margo McCaffery’s, the pioneer of pain management definition of pain, “It’s whatever the experiencing person says it is, existing whenever and wherever the person says it does.” Her words have become a touchstone for clinicians addressing and treating patients in pain. https://voice.ons.org/ The widely used 0-10 pain scale assessment tool came from this definition. Today, patient self-report is the standard of care for evaluating pain.
Many times when I am reading about different people’s grief, or responding to a question about what they should do in a situation, I think about pain as something hard to assess such as grief, it is whatever people say it is and for that person it will be different than my own. I remember one of the first questions I read was about burial verses cremation. I knew instantly what I needed for my child. It was different than many other grieving parents. Newly in my loss I remember thinking I could never choose their choice, but then it occurred to me, their choice was not wrong, it was just different.
To Thine own self be true, do what you need to do to take care of you. You have many people around you or even people you have not met yet that need you. I remember one online friend who was a single mother that lost her only child, she moves on to help other people in similar situations because only she knows that kind of pain and her pain is different than my own.
The tricky part can be grief in a family related to roles. My grief as a mother is different than my daughter’s grief of loosing her sister and my mother’s to loosing her grand-daughter. Sometimes it can be hard to understand each of their grief, so I listen when they want me to. Loss is a grenade who’s shrapnel hits all it can reach. We have to give each other grace. Give each other a little room to have a different relationship with it. I think of a grenade going off, and one person losing a leg, one an arm, another an eye. One person is partially blind, one cannot walk, the other cannot swim, they all experience pain. What we all need to remember is their prothesis device, used to individually navigate their world, is fit specifically only to that one person and no two are the same.