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Live each day as if it were your last. Someday, you'll be right.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Programs Running in the Background

My dad passed away over the holidays. 

We had an odd relationship but loved each other as best we could. I thought I was entering this new season of my life without him in a healthy way.

While at Happy Hour the other night with some of my favorite co-workers, I mentioned that I was having trouble concentrating, crying randomly and making lots of little mindless errors. It took the IT Director to put it all in perspective for me.

You have programs running in the background.

That was all I needed to cut myself a little slack.

You hear about the "stages of grief" like there are some neat little steps you go through and then you are finished.

"Relationships are all very unique. We can never really know what two people mean to one another. When we diagnose grieving, we assume some special knowledge about a relationship that we have had no part of. Though diagnosing actual mental illness can provide a benefit to patients, I am dubious of those in psychology and medicine that feel a need to label and categorize grief."

Wherever humans are involved, there is a certain amount of messiness. Our empirical wisdom makes it obvious that each of us is different. We may share some basic similarities but even our points of reference cause these to surface in our lives uniquely.   Another one of my blog entries on empirical wisdom.

" Claiming knowledge based on an external authority distances us from these problems and eliminates the messiness that is part of being   it maintains the illusion of human perfectibility and scientific 'progress.' The time and energy spent debating tools and techniques - the so-called methodism or methods fetishism - keeps researchers from engaging  these other, highly problematic issues. An unyielding procedural 'rigor' that enables claims to 'objective' knowledge keeps researchers from having to relinquish a shop-worn distinction between body and mind that is increasingly blurred; from seeing that the source of research authority is vested in and regulated by communal discourse; and from being accepting of a knowledge whose character is neither absolute nor universal, but deeply, unremittingly human, and therefore potentially flawed. A human science, mired in human infallibility, renders us firmly in our humanity." Interpretation And Method: Empirical Research Methods And the Interpretive Turn  By Dvora Yanow, Peregrine Schwartz-Shea p. 83 

"Perhaps the stage theory of grief caught on so quickly because it made loss sound controllable. The trouble is that it turns out largely to be a fiction, based more on anecdotal observation than empirical evidence. Though Kübler-Ross captured the range of emotions that mourners experience, new research suggests that grief and mourning don’t follow a checklist; they’re complicated and untidy processes, less like a progression of stages and more like an ongoing process—sometimes one that never fully ends. Perhaps the most enduring psychiatric idea about grief, for instance, is the idea that people need to “let go” in order to move on; yet studies have shown that some mourners hold on to a relationship with the deceased with no notable ill effects. (In China, mourners regularly speak to dead ancestors, and one study has shown that the bereaved there suffer less long-term distress than bereaved Americans do.) At the end of her life, Kübler-Ross herself recognized how far astray our understanding of grief had gone. In “On Grief and Grieving,” she insisted that the stages were “never meant to help tuck messy emotions into neat packages.” If her injunction went unheeded, perhaps it is because the messiness of grief is what makes us uncomfortable." Read more:
 I've decided to just let it work itself out. I'm going easy on myself and not expecting to follow any particular pattern of grief.

DadI'm sad that you're gone. I love you. I know you were human and made mistakes. You were a fellow traveler in this life and I do not judge you. As you said in a note to me and my brother, "See y'all in heaven."

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