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Grief Bursts

INTRODUCTION BY ELIZABETH COPLAN

I had only just met Jason, my neighbor and husband to a fellow museum board member Kate. My husband Scott and I along with Kate and Jason enjoyed a few drinks and a few laughs on a few occasions. I looked forward to our foursome…especially since they lived down the street.
Kate is a wealth of information on beverages, trending beverages, handcrafted sodas and craft brews. I learned what flavors the American public will like…next year. And, last summer, I learned Kate’s definition of Grief Bursts.

In short it’s that bring-you-to-your-knees moment when grief overtakes you.

“Grief bursts”, Kate told me one day, “is what happens when you are minding your daily business. Doing the most mundane task you have done hundreds of times. And then, without any warning or awareness, you are a sobbing, sniveling, snotty, red-eyed blob of grief.

Kate shares her Grief Burst description below. In short it’s that bring-you-to-your-knees moment when grief overtakes you.

THE GRIEF BURST
by Kate Ruffing

The grief burst. This is what I call it.

You are minding your daily business. Doing the most mundane task you have done hundreds of times. And then, without any warning or awareness, you are a sobbing, sniveling, snotty, red-eyed blob of grief.

This is horrible at any time. But when you are home alone, it is not nearly as embarrassing as in public. In public, it is suddenly like you have the plague. No one will look at you or even ask you what is wrong. Shit, if you stumble and fall in public, you most likely will have someone ask if you are okay. But when you are having a grief burst, suddenly you are marginalized and outcast and not there.

This happened to me for the first time about 4 weeks after my husband died. I had lots of crying up to that point. Mostly at home, in bed, under the covers. And of course at his memorial – a completely socially acceptable forum for crying.
But I was standing in Ace Hardware. Looking in vain for a replacement latch that had broken.

“Can I help you with anything?”, says the “Helpful Hardware Man”.

“BAAAAAAAAAAA..” Suddenly, without warning or explanation, I am sobbing like a newborn. Tears are pouring from my eyes like a monsoon, snot from my nose as if I am possessed.

“I am looking for the do-hicky, thing-a-nabob that keeps the gate closed. My husband would know exactly where to get it and how to fix it!”, I blather on in broken English between sobs.

The Helpful Hardware Man is just staring. In horror. Clean up in aisle 3.

Kate Ruffing was widowed at the age of 38 and discovered through her grief journey that many, including herself, did not know how to grieve or support someone with grief. She got involved in the Grief Dialogues to help bring awareness, support, and comfortable conversation to this universal human journey. Her hope is that through this project, people can find a way to authentically and transparently support each other through the stages and process of death and grief.

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