Grief: Type 4

The last person you expect to meet could be the person you become as a griever: The Bulldozer.

One thing I believe that all grievers have in common is the desire for the pain of grief to end.  Sometimes that means they wish it backwards by dwelling in the past and other times they wish the time to fast forward, focusing on the distant future or simply deadening the pain in their present with their drug of choice: food, alcohol, therapy, overdosing on anything that gets their mind off of the pain.

For those who want or feel there may be a way to speed through the process of grieving, there is a special danger of becoming a bulldozer: Speeding their way through the grieving process with blindfolds on.

Not everyone ends up a bulldozer, but almost everyone who grieves will meet one or encounter one in their immediate circle: someone who is blindly lashing out like a drowning man, trying to gasp for air, unaware in their desperation, that they may be dragging others down with them.  This happens because you, as a griever, are not the only one grieving for the loss.  Many in your circle will be grieving for similar reasons, and thus the danger of being hurt by a bulldozer…or becoming the bulldozer.

In the first case, encountering a bulldozer is as dangerous to your peace of mind and ability to move forward as a real bulldozer in traffic going 20 mph in front of you  in heavy traffic.  Just like the bulldozer, the best thing is to drive around them, giving them plenty of  room or taking a side road avoiding them entirely.

There’s not much you can do with or for a bulldozer but give them the, keeping in mind that from someone else’s point of view–YOU–are the bulldozer. Given the right amount of time, bulldozers can be approachable, once they have stopped to dig something out or are spinning their wheels in the mud.  Most of the time, they won’t be in the right mind to listen to you.  The best thing you can do is wait until they run out of gas.  When they do, they may realize that they  haven’t managed to run away from their problems and have dug themselves a bigger hole.  That is when you can comfort them calmly and offer them friendship and empathy only a fellow griever can give.

A bulldozer is expressing as much of the grieving process as any other griever, in compact, straightforward methods that only that type of machine can deliver.  Some may consider it unhealthy, but you’ll never convince a bulldozer to introspect on that fact while they are in the drivers seat.

If YOU are the bulldozer, you may not recognize it without looking for it.  Here are a few warning signs:

  1. Friends telling you that something is wrong even though you don’t think anything is
  2. People who are normally close and friendly with you are avoiding you. (Though realize that distance is common with grievers from people who have never experienced a similar grief.  They don’t know how to approach you.)
  3. You feel isolated even with and in situations where there are people with similar experiences as yours.
  4. You are unable to connect with anyone, including friends and family.

Realizing that you are being a bulldozer will be the first big step in a scary but immensely brave and somewhat difficult path to recovery (whatever that means to you).  Remember what mom said: Nothing that is worthwhile is easy… Or maybe that was Yoda.  Or Kermit…. I confuse my sages from time to time.

You do understand the point, right?

Grieving may be the hardest thing you will ever do in your life, hardest because you KNOW you will have to experience it again and again.  I think that’s why we turn into bulldozers, or one of the other types of people grievers meet.  At some point in the grieving process, we all feel like we are drowning, thrashing about for something to hold onto.

Something that is no longer there.

We need a new foothold.  We need a new foundation, and as any good contractor will tell you, fixing a foundation on a perfectly solid house will cause cracks, creases and folds.  It is unavoidable.  But you can fill in cracks.  You can replace broken tiles.  You can level out the folds. The house is still the same, even if it is a little broken under the new finish.

In the end, there is no perfect method to grieving.  It is very specialized from individual to individual, but there is a perfect example for us to follow and it is the shortest verse in the Bible: Jesus wept.

If the world’s most perfect man knew that the way to address grief was to weep with friends (this is the point of a Shiva), then it must be the purpose of  “a time to mourn.”  When the scriptures give us such a clear path and design, it is not by mistake.  The process of grief should include permission to weep when it is needed and then go up and be the best you that you have ever been, and rescue yourself, and those among you from the same fate by believing in the power of a life after death.