Why do We Mourn?

I was around 10 years old when my maternal grandmother died. The woman held no special relationship with me. When I was an infant, she constantly berated my mother for not feeding me enough. I was a skinny baby, apparently. After my tonsils were removed, I ate too well. I was already overweight by the time she passed. I got the impression I embarrassed her. I didn’t expect to cry, even though I was sorry to not have the chance to learn her stories. What I know, I learned from my sister who was a teenager at the time.072116 candles

At Grandma’s funeral, my mother mourned and cried. I found that seeing my mother so sad and lost caused me to cry. But was I mourning?

On Quora, people responded to the question in different ways. https://www.quora.com/Why-do-we-mourn-death-Shouldnt-death-be-a-celebration-of-a-great-life-lived-given-that-it-is-an-eventuality-no-one-can-deny-or-escape Knowing we are going to face the rest of our lives without the deceased’s presence or input is certainly hard to face. With my grandmother, who played a very little role in my life, that wasn’t my experience.

A year or so ago I lost a friend, very suddenly, one I called my “Sister of my Heart.” I had no idea she was in the hospital until her son posted on Facebook that she was gone. Shock and numbness settled over me as I waited to find out if this were a horrible joke. Then the tears, the sadness, the mourning.

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She’d been a doctor, a mother, and a kind advocate in many places in our world. She had adopted children from around the world in countries she had visited. Her memorial was held at the art museum where she was a volunteer for many years. The place was packed. The tears fell constantly. And surprisingly, I discovered friends in other parts of my life that had known her, too.

Why do I mourn children who are lost to other parents? Why do I sob when I know someone has lost a beloved partner and spouse? Why can’t I forget the loss of pets over many years? Part of why I write is due to these feelings that I carry. I ease the weight of them through writing about similar situations.

072116 until it happens to you

I sat beside my mother when she died, telling her I was going to be alright. Her loss was not easy, but we had a difficult relationship. Losing my stepmother was harder, more unexpected and disastrous to the family. But why do we mourn?


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Victorian tear bottle. Mourners cry tears into bottle and when the tears evaporate, the mourning is over.


Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph. D., explains that our capacity to love comes with a counterbalance of a capacity to mourn. Nothing lasts forever, we know that before we are many years old. So we try not to think of the coming loss. Unless we can’t help thinking about it. When someone has cancer or another fatal situation, we know and we react in our own way. http://griefwords.com/index.cgi?action=page&page=articles%2Fhelping36.html&site_id=7

We may be afraid of feelings that hurt. We may suppress or deny our feelings so that we don’t mourn for very long. But however we do it, we mourn because something we love has been taken away from us permanently. We will never experience life in the same way we did before that loss.

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Thanks for reading. I’ll be back on Sunday.


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