Krista Tippett’s On Being podcast is worth listening to anytime. That’s a given. But once in a while an episode really resonates with me.
Sis-in-law Aunt Kathy recently sent me a link to an episode called “The Myth of Closure,” a conversation with Pauline Boss, a family therapist and scientist. Boss coined the term “ambiguous loss,” which she explains in the conversation.
Holiday time can be hard for people living with loss, whether ambiguous or painfully clear cut. (I find specific places harder than dates on the calendar, but I totally get it.) There is insight and comfort in Boss’s clear understanding and articulation of the variability of reactions to loss, and in her rejection of the common belief that we should or can “get over it.” It’s a relief to hear that closure is not a good word or a desirable outcome, and that tenacious grief is not necessarily pathological. It’s deeply affirming to know that humans are capable of holding joy and sadness at the same time.
Does this make me Debbie Downer? I sure hope not! One thing I’ve experienced is that grief, especially old grief but sometimes even new grief, is not unrelenting. I think that whenever a person feels like laughing, or putting on her lipstick and going to the party (as in a poem recited in the podcast), she should. I feel strengthened by this conversation. I’m going to listen again when I need to.