Grief vs. Greath


Even though my dad is thought to be on the quieter side as far as humans go, he sure is funny.  I’m a huge fan of my dad and have always thought he was one of the funniest people on earth.  Anything he thought was funny, I would adopt with the same adoration.  I owe my love of Sniglets to his love of Sniglets.  For those of you who may not already know, a Sniglet is: “a word that should be in the dictionary, but is not.”  They bring some levity to life in moments where frustration could take hold.  Like when I sort clothes after removing them from the dryer, only to find that three fourths of the socks are missing their mate. Instead of getting mad,  I can giggle a little about them being in the hozone. “The place where one sock in every laundry load disappears to.”  Another example would be when you make a sandwich on expensive bread and instead of mustard coming out of the bottle, you get “the watery discharge that accumulates and comes out first,” or hydrocondiment.  

So, for a long time now, I’ve wanted to create a new Sniglet.  It wouldn’t make it into the book of Sniglets, because it lacks the comical element required, but it is a word that is not in the dictionary, but should be.  The word is GREATH n. (greth). –  “Grief, but only grief that is a result of the untimely death of a loved one.”  

I never realized how much the word grief is used, until after Dave died.  I have this instant reaction to the word, when people are using it to describe how they feel about a kind of loss.  I try hard not to cringe, because I know, know, know, that what they are going through is not little or insignificant, but it just isn’t the same as when you lose a child, or a spouse or a parent at a young age, through death.  I’m not trying rank the difficulty of anyone’s circumstances in any way shape or form.  In fact, I’m not even trying to take the word grief away from anyone.  I just want to make a new word that is reserved for the crazy and intense emotions that engulf you when someone who is a part of you, dies.  

I will freely admit that I used the word grief before Dave died to explain a lot of feelings in my life.  I remember walking through Target, when my oldest daughter was going through a stage of strange seizure like behavior that we couldn’t diagnose and thinking, “I’m grieving the thought of having a ‘normal’ child.”  She ended up growing out of this bizarre behavior for which I’m so grateful.  But those grief feelings were very legitimate during that uncertain time.  In adoption, they talk a lot about grief. Grief for the adopted child (which is GREATH) and grief for the family.  Families sometimes grieve their life pre-adoption comfort, because all of the sudden the road gets bumpy.  That grief, is nothing like the GREATH I had after Dave died.  I have been grieving being able to run, play volleyball or strap on a pair of skis, ever since my disc situation began.  We all have great loss and we all grieve and the word grief is very legitimate in many cases, but it’s not like GREATH.   

People use grief to talk about a change in jobs, or a change in houses, and I will freely admit that if someone shuttled me out of my life here and said I had to live on Patmos Island, I would say, I would grieve and I would grieve hard.  I would have felt a great loss, but I bet it would still not be the same as GREATHING.  GREATHING is the agony of death that literally can not be contained in your body or expressed hard enough and furiously enough.  It is other-worldy.  Even the sound of the word GREATH explains it.  It is brash, gritty, rude and even when you whisper it, it is sounds like an enemy.    

I don’t GREATH anymore, for which I am very grateful.  I grieve some, but less and less and less and less.  

I think grief is a great word to describe feelings of loss, but until GREATH becomes a real word, try to refrain from using the word grief to describe your feelings about the loss of your 9 to 5 job when becoming a stay at home mom, with a friend that just lost a baby.  That might not sit well.  Just be slightly semi aware of your audience when using the word grief.  And if you know someone who lost someone, pass on the word GREATH. I know I needed a word that described more . . . more something.  See . . . you just can’t describe it.       

Christina’s Take:

Most of us totally use the English language in a lazy way. If I had a nickel for the number of times that people describe something as AMAZING (a talk, a movie, a flavor, an outfit – anything) I would have many hundreds of dollars. I remember my English teacher in 7th grade, Mrs. Rickard, made us write 100 synonyms for the word WALK. It seemed impossible! But once we handed in our assignments, our little junior high brains had been expanded. 

I remember when I joined Holly at the hospital on that dreaded day – it seemed like she was drunk; flitting from thought to agonizing thought, unpredictably switching focus, and….the screaming crying – can’t think about it without tears rolling down my face. Indeed so true that GREATH is a take-your-breath-away reality.

Megan’s Take:

Wow.  This post.  I am convicted and inspired.  Educated and intimidated.  I’m sure I have over used the word “grief.”  Though I have not experienced the sudden loss of a loved one (yet), I can appreciate that this must be one of the most gut-wrenching, traumatic experiences one could have.  Our family experienced exactly what Holly referenced in regards to adoption when we brought our kids home just before Christmas several years ago. 

In the weeks and months that followed, I used the word “grief” to describe what my adopted children were going through and honestly, I also used it in regards to how I was feeling as a mom when I longed for some sense of balance and normalcy, but didn’t see a light at the end of the tunnel.  Watching my adopted son manifest “greath” was indeed different than what I experienced. The problem was that I had limited vocabulary and understanding. Kelel’s violent and heart-wrenching weeping/gnashing of teeth was so different than mine.  Upon further reflection, I suppose it is more accurate to say that I lamented. I pined. I was distressed.  But did I grieve? Probably not. This advent season continues to be a reminder of the complicated labyrinth of feelings that bubble or burst onto the scene, often unannounced, even in the midst of and in spite of celebratory lights, smells and sounds of all kinds. Sending lots of prayers and hugs to all those dealing with their own greath in this season. xoxo

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: