I have come to believe that people have a breaking point in regard to how much grief, loss and pain they can take. At some point, the rubber band has stretched too far, too thin, too many times and it snaps. I guess the next question is, what happens after that? The rubber band is usually tossed in the trash, no longer salvageable. And what if there isn't a replacement at the ready?
I've been catching the new ancestry show on NBC, "Who Do You Think You Are?" that airs on Friday nights. A few weeks back, the show was about Brooke Shields. Many years ago, I remember reading that the familial relationship between Brooke's mother and grandmother was strained. So in this episode, Brooke wanted to see if she could uncover some information about her grandmother to help explain this.
She found that her grandmother had lost her mother at age 10 and then lived a life involving hardship and poverty in New Jersey. Her grandmother was forced to become sister and mother to her siblings. Some years later, another tragedy occurred when one of the brothers died in a drowning accident - I think he was about 13.
With the cameras rolling on Brooke, she processed this information with amazing clarity and insight. She related that she now had some compassion and understanding for her grandmother's situation, which until that point she had been totally unaware. Basically, she said that she could now comprehend her grandmother's ongoing negativity and bitterness. She said something to the effect that people can only take so much and perhaps her grandmother's early losses had been too much to bear.
Recently at the bookstore I paged through a new book on grief that has come out. The significance in it is that there haven't been many recent studies on grief and loss so this one is getting some attention. It is titled, "The Other Side of Sadness." I would like to read it someday just for general knowledge but from what I can tell, I think the main premise by the author is that people are much more resilient than been given credit for in the past - I guess along the gist of people bouncing back and recovering and becoming happy again.
EXCEPT the author did concede that some of us do struggle harder and longer than others. Especially those who are dealing with loss along with financial issues. Another point raised was that people lacking strong support systems of family and friends are at a disadvantage because a great deal of emotional support is necessary, AS WELL as ongoing support to tackle ordinary household and everyday situations. The author additionally brought up the fact that some people are more naturally resilient and optimistic than others too, so personal makeup and genes do factor in also.
This was part of the point I was trying to make in my "Crazy Widow" post. That I can comprehend why and how some widows do seem to go off the deep end, withdraw or give up hope. It is a combination of so many factors.
I look back at my journey and am just now beginning to realize how disadvantaged I was even at the beginning of widowhood. My husband had been sick for three years so there was fatigue, sorrow, grief and loss that had existed for a number of years even before the actual death! That is another fact that I don't think people ever stop to realize or consider. For those long-term caregivers, the entire period leading up to the loss is almost its own period of transition, stress and strain. And you go from that to big time grief!
I won't belabor the point here. I've said what I want to say. The question and possibly the key I need to lock next is, so now what? The rubber band is in the garbage. Or put another way, what do you do when you desperately need a vacation but can't take one? How can a broken, drained, depleted and hopeless spirit be revived after it has snapped?
I don't think you can tell someone in this place to wait it out and give it time. Maybe time has run out. I think hope has to be built on hope. And when there is none there it may be a futile effort. So where does that spark come from when it can no longer be ignited from within?