Monday, October 27, 2008

Grief - Greed - and 'Uncle'

I was speaking with someone the other day - this person said that "grief is the worst type of greed". I was really taken aback by this statement. My quick reply was, "if I were you I would be cautious about when and to whom such a statement was said." These words have stayed with me ever since and for a couple of reasons. One, I have a lot of respect for the person who voiced this and often, I am challenged to consider his view or perhaps rise up to it in defense of my own. One would think that with a statement such as the one above I would have been vehemently opposed, but honestly, I wasn't. I understood the idea of it although I feel it was wrongly stated and/or misunderstood by me.

Let's look at the word greed. My understanding of the meaning is that when one is greedy they take more than they need. I think with grief, people simply need more and I am not convinced that greed is the right word to define what people do when they are grief-stricken because it implies a negative connotation. It is a time, definitely, that people need more support, extra everything and hopefully there are those around that want to provide it. What was missing in that statement, for me, was any reference to "balance". When one is weak and another is strong life insists that the tables will turn one day and the weak will be strong and vice versa. I never think of any type of brokenness and need for help as greedy but rather quite necessary and natural in the life cycle. If greed is the word that best describes those times when people are in need, then fine, it actually fits. I also think it is perfectly normal and acceptable and is just the way life is. Sometimes we are the givers, sometimes the receivers and grief is top of the list for being a receiver. Greed? Hmmmmmmm. It is good that people can ask for what they need and we should be free to do so without being labeled. Labels are imprisoning and limiting and are about the one labeling not the one being labeled. Labels relieve people of responsibility and it is simply wrong. In regards to being greedy when grieving - that suggests a flaw on the part of the griever and therefore the one labeling can just walk away saying, "hey-your problem not mine, if you weren't so fucking greedy you wouldn't need me..............." What? If a person falls and breaks their leg is it greedy to hope someone will assist them to the hospital?

As I am writing I am realizing that the statement was unsettling. I have wrestled with it ever since, and I am not quite ready to cry "Uncle". (so be the other word in the title of this post)! I will make no apologies for being 'greedy'/'needy' if I am grieving. I know that the people closest to me will offer their support without question or a label. I guess it comes down to communication. Did this person mean that greed is wrong when one is grieving? That is what I 'heard'. I don't believe that to be true, at least I hope not. I think it was a word to describe people's neediness and he did not mean it shouldn't be, rather it was a word to describe the depth of need during grief. And going back to my earlier comment about not being vehemently opposed, that is why. I just didn't like the word. I am very okay with grieving people being greedy. It IS their time to take. And like all things their time will come again to give. I believe the greedy times in our life when we need and receive more are okay so long as we give back when it is time to balance the wealth. We all do it, "situational greed". Right? Wrong?, - neither - it is how we survive.

I hope all of you have people on your life that understand your times of greed and need and never make you feel bad or wrong for being so. That is a far greater injustice then a grief stricken person reaching out for help and being greedy.



PENolan said...

Saying it's the WORST sort of greed clearly places a negative judgement on the word "greed."

When grieving a person is not a greedy pig simply due to the grief. The person could be greedy by nature and get even more greedy when s/he has an excuse to hog more attention.

It also may be that the needs of the griever may be too great for a friend to fulfill. The friend might be resentful or ashamed by his/her own inability to give the griever what is needed and consequently give the need a negative label such as Greedy.

Just a thought.

Gail said...

Hi Trish
You raise all good points to ponder. And yes, if a person is greedy by nature then the grief could be a reason to "take" way more and expect way more. I just found the word interesting because I never ever associated the need of someone who is grieving with greedy. So it was a first. Ya know?

As always, thanks for your thoughts.

PENolan said...

It was a first for me, too.
Hope you are well

Comrade Kevin said...

It just depends. Some people are unintentionally needy when they're really struggling and some people thrive on other peoples' energy and sympathy---much like vampires.

It's often tough discerning the difference between the two.