Grief at the dinner table…

As an observer of life I often enjoy watching people interact on a daily basis getting on with living. Thus, when you are bereft and keeping your head above water these daily tasks can be overly consuming and often disabling. The soul struggles to ‘get on with life’ because the hurt is to palpable. Watching others ‘getting on’ with life becomes a hard task because it only re-enforces the sadness you have in your life.

Last night I walked into a restaurant and this was the scene I was confronted with. An elderly women sharing a meal with her mother, on the table beside them sat a young couple and moments later walked in at least 6 couples who looked to be in their mid to late 60’s. I studied each of them and I felt sadness, I felt sorrow for the woman sharing a meal with her elderly mother who was visibly frail and weak. I felt sorrow knowing that someday her daughter will no longer have the pleasure in sharing a meal with her, a mother to love and hold, a mother to mother her and offer her security and warmth.

The couple next to them looked deep in conversation and I felt sorrow for the young women and men who no longer have the opportunity to share a meal and converse intimately with their partners. Young love should be cherished and enjoyed, so many lovers are torn apart by death and separation. The loneliness that consumes those who bury their partners can be very isolating in a world full of couples.

Retirement is a time of life to enjoy and immerse oneself in the fruits of your labour. It is the time for exploring and attending to those hobbies you put off years ago. As I watched this table interact I felt sorrow for those alone at home eating a lonely meal in absence of their soul mate. I felt sad knowing that death someday should intervene and disturb their meal. Sadness that someday this table will dwindle in numbers and that one of them will ultimately be left standing alone, without choice.                                        

Thus, as I enjoyed a meal with my family I felt sorrow for those without company. I thought about the families being separated right now due to war and terrorism and the parents being separated from their children and partners being separated from their loved ones… Our families represent our existence; our identity, our life line….. The thought that someday we too shall be separated pulled at my heart string. This grief sitting at the dinner table felt overly consuming, but it is real and must be acknowledged. What we have can all be gone in the blink of an eye. Such realisation that life is fleeting should be cherished and chewed slowly. Grief also gives us the ability to appreciate the smaller things in life, the flutter of a butterfly, the formation of the clouds, the taste of dew in the fresh air. We must appreciate these simply things because those no longer here can not. In their absence we should enjoy the entree, main and desserts of life.

Grief exposes you to all your demons, it reveals you in ways you thought you could not be revealed. Grief doesn’t care if you’re sitting in a tram or taking a shower. Looking around you and admiring whats in the moment should be cultivated more. Plant those seeds and don’t be afraid of what sprouts. We can not deny death but we can take pleasure in life….


Written by Janice Butera


My Bereavement Companion


Art Work Credit:


Devout fan of life's little treasures.

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