Here is some food for thought when helping others with their grief experiences or looking at your own.
In a society that uses words as describers there are situations where there are no words to describe a loss. Think about it for a moment; if you have no place to live you are classified as homeless, if you have no job you may be classified as jobless. These are “just” descriptive words, but have you ever given much thought about the descriptive words used for death losses?
A person whose spouse dies is called a widow if she is female or widower if he is male. A child who has a parent or parents die is now called an orphan. These are socially acceptable terms to be used and are understood by most people.
What about same sex couples if they are married? Are they called widowed and widower? A person who is in a common law relationship is not classified as a widow or widower upon their partner’s death. Hmmm, another instance when there is no word to describe a loss.
Consider a death loss associated with the following relationships; sibling, grandparent, grandchild, friend, child and mistress or what other loss you can put here. Depending on the situation and circumstances is one loss any stronger than another or less meaningful to the surviving individual?
Now that my sister has died am I “sisterless”? Perhaps I have other sisters. Now that my child has died am I childless? Perhaps I have other children. Is it acceptable to use the suffix “less” after each loss and if so, why don’t we use it?
The reason I bring this topic up for review is there are many people who grieve and have no words to describe their loss. Some words that you might think could be made to go together such as “grandmother-less” are not used.
If you were a grandparent and your grandchild died, would it be easier to use one word to describe what your loss was or is? Would this save explaining to others what has happened? For some losses I feel the answer is yes.
When someone says they are a widower everyone understands their loss, no more needs to be said.
I know many individuals will feel their heart pain and sadness, saying it all without words; when there is no word for their loss.
All my best,
Barbara Gillett Saunders
What words can you create
to describe some of the losses mentioned above?