When I was young, and I must admit that this was in the days before antibiotics, I had a boil. Besides being painful I hated it with all the passion that a child is capable of. The ignominy I the sense of injustice that such a thing could happen to me, that this alien thing could afflict me in such a humiliating manner seemed too much for me to bear. But I had a wise and understanding parent. Gently and with skill he explained to me the wonder of the Boil; how the forces of my body marshalled themselves; how the vigilant defending white corpuscles surrounded the invading bacteria; how the offending germs were encapsulated, gathered together in one place and forced inexorably to the surface there to be expelled for all time, defeated. The boil was my friend. It was my Instinctive reaction to a potentially dangerous threat. Without it my whole system would sicken and maybe die. He was a wise man indeed.

Grief, too, is sometimes seen as an unwelcome invader. It is seen as an affliction as distressing as the boil. It is painful. It is composed of emotions and feelings which we are reluctant to acknowledge. Feelings of injustice. Feelings of Anger. The whole encompassed in an overwhelming feeling of loss. We attempt to deny it, we refuse to accept that THIS could happen to us. It isn’t fair! Vet inexorably our instinctively wise body/mind acts despite our superficial conscious self. Slowly, and with inevitable distress, all our negative feelings, all our outmoded constructs of our former reality, are gathered together, encapsulated, and expelled.

Reality is how things are, not how they were or how they should be, and grief is our way of coming to terms with this. Normally grief is a catastrophic reaction to a sudden loss. We in ADARDS are subjected to a chronic, rather than acute, grief. We suffer grief at every qualitative change, every downturn in the unrelenting degeneration of our loved one. Yet we should welcome grief. We should see it as the healthy adjustment that it is. It is easing us into the acceptance of the inevitable. We DO have time to say goodbye. A lingering goodbye it is true but we who have loved are spared the time for a little more loving. I ask you to be honest. Would you wish to change places with a road accident widow or the mother of a cot death baby? May you find the strength to work through your grief and come to the calm acceptance of that which is. The sting in the tail…! Even if you do not… It STILL is.

Copyright H.St.Vincent Beechey 1987