Grief Expectations

Monday, September 12, 2011

I’m tired. I want to write about our 28th anniversary yesterday and our wedding day September 11, 1983. That’s before the date was usurped by terrorism on America and its collective loss. However, the stories are draining to me right now.

I am tired.

I can’t always be loving and sentimental and patient. I can’t get to the many tasks at hand for business and home. I am a mom, wife, caregiver, business woman, creative consultant, marketer, and more. Not necessarily in that order. In fact, I think the list is circular, going around and around. I’m just trying to catch a brass ring each time I go by — a different brass ring with each up and down on the carousel ride.

This makes me consider the role of expectations. There are my expectations of myself, and there are others’ expectations of me. But probably the most important is what I think the other person’s expectations of me might be. That’s the caveat!

I’m not sure if I’ve given conscious thought to what anyone expects of me right now. I think it is an assumption that I am happy to take care of Dave. That I will call for help when needed.  This is certainly not a problem because I am on board and capable.

I’m not the sibling complaining about doing all the caregiving for a parent while others sit around and enjoy life. There is not that much hands-on care to burden me. Dave is not in need of 24/7 vigilance at this time. I am comforted to know I have many to call upon. I am not afraid to do so.

Too many times in life I’ve realized that someone expected something but never made it clear. It is impossible to fulfill someone else’s need if you don’t know what that expectation might be. Nope. I can’t say I’m falling into that trap anywhere. (If I am, well, see? I am unaware of the expectation!)

Probably the expectations of me by others are far less than those I impose on myself.

Am I expecting too much of myself right now? Why is it so easy to counsel others to give leeway, take the simple road when given a choice, lower one’s expectations on themselves during this time? I have difficulty in taking my own advice!  “Walking the talk” should mean I can model moderation in my own expectations, right? This must be the unspoken expectation every bereavement specialist feels within their own personal loss challenges. None of us is ever immune to bereavement, no matter how many tools of the trade we can apply.

You know what? Maybe there isn’t a real issue of expectations (although I know in many family situations this is a needed discussion). Maybe I am just plain tired. Sleep is not so refreshing right now. Power naps are required, not luxury.

I feel the clock ticking away at Dave’s life and my goals. We’ve reached a big milestone: Our anniversary and his birthday (tomorrow).  We have gathered the family together once again around food and talk and celebration of life. I am in post production let down, post partum depression, or whatever analogy that says the anticipated event (the expectation) is over.

September 11. How many articles, tweets, Facebook posts, newsreels, blog posts, trailers and other media swelled our past week with anticipated angst? We have been inundated with expectations of sadness, mourning, ritual and memories. We’ve experienced a collective expectation of grief. I am sure many people are as tired as I feel today.  At least now we can give out a collective sigh of relief. That date has passed once again (until next time). Perhaps it is our individual response to unexpressed societal expectations that weigh most heavily in grief during  holidays, remembrances, weddings and other traditions. How we are suppose to feel. What we are expected to do. Why we should act in some certain way.

I feel like the clock is my nemesis, grief’s foe, in so many ways.  (Wow, I measure my expectations by the clock and the calendar.) Deadline. My expectations are met or denied by the clock. Each year, each month. Weeks, days, minutes  and down to the steady heartbeat. Each breath of life. Measures of time. Every moment is anticipated.

Each encounter is expected to be valuable and full of life.

Each encounter is expected to be valuable. Ah, to try to make this happen is tiring for us all.

2 replies
  1. Beckie
    Beckie says:

    Hello Joan,
    Please say hello to Dave from me and give him a birthday hug . Also one for Dawn who will probably remember me. And one for yourself. Tell them that Kanga the dog lived to the ripe old age of 16. I have sent a photo you may like to put in the album.It was taken in 1977.
    Sending warmest and sincerest comforting wishes your way, even though I don’t know you. May the birthday be all that you hoped for and give you a pick-up. Writing from the vortex takes a lot of courage and energy. I salute you. I am so sorry.


    • joan
      joan says:

      Birthday hug coming up! Yes, Dawn remembers you.Dave has relayed stories of Kanga, too. We said goodbye to our 15 y/o Lucky dog just recently. They remain in our hearts forever.
      The photo arrived, thanks. Classic Turkey Sweat Dave. This inspires me to get the photo album updated on his website ( ).


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