On average, working adults are permitted to take off three "personal days" from their regular occupations to mourn the loss of their loved ones. In our fast paced, often hectic society — one which places a premium on hard work and productivity in the workplace — this time to oneself is usually deemed sufficient for making funeral arrangements, burying the dead, and mourning the loss. With the exception of offering the bereaved person some heartfelt expressions of condolence, (i.e., a sympathy card), the prevailing notion of our peers, including co-workers, members of our community, and even close friends and family is that the mourning process should be brief, rather than a long-drawn-out process. Continuing outward signs of distress are therefore deemed excessive, if not abnormal.
In my part-time private practice as a Psychologist, a sizable portion of my clientele consists of individuals who are grieving a loss. Their losses can take many different forms. The most frequent types of loss I see are death, the ending of a relationship, or a significant debilitating injury. In some cases, the losses have been of a sudden and traumatic nature. When listening to my patients' experiences, I am so often moved by their strength and resilience in having coped with, and, in many cases, transcended their circumstances.
It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person,
"Always do what you are afraid to do."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
It was 4:00 AM. I walked through the dark, cold, and lonely maze of more than 100 apartment buildings. I would go in the front door, throw a couple of newspapers in front of apartment doors, and go out the back door. It was 1974, and I delivered newspapers seven mornings a week. I was a year out of treatment for alcoholism, and life was difficult as I sought find the courage to compose a new life.
It's been decades since the witty romantic comedy "When Harry Met Sally" explored the still debatable question: "Can women and men be just friends?" Some people say "No way!" Heterosexual men and women can't be true friends. Blame the hormones! Attribute it to spousal jealousy. Point the finger at the predatory nature of men (and aggressive women) who "want only one thing". Or simply remember that men and women come from different planets, and interplanetary friendships have never worked. Despite the naysayers, what does the research show and what do the experts say? Since I am one of the experts (this was my dissertation topic), I'd like to share my findings with you. Despite the stories of Harry & Sally, men and women can be friends without the relationship transitioning into a sexual one.