Bob Baugher, Ph.D.
Let’s look at the title. First, what is a non-griever? It is someone who has not been touched by the loss of a significant loved one. You used to be in that category, remember? You were so innocent back then. Then, a terrible thing happened in your life, which instantly thrust you into the category of griever. Second, what is Illusory warm glow? It is the belief that the world is better than it really is, the belief that I am better at things than I really am, the idea that things are better than what they actually are. The term illusory, of course, refers to the concept of illusion which is a false perception. Prior to the terrible death in your life, you walked around with the illusion that life was fair, that terrible things happened to other people, that painful events were tolerable. You now know better.
The fact is: there are people around you who, like you, are still naïve. When they hear your story of loss and grief, it is virtually impossible for them to suddenly drop their illusion. Face it, it is just too painful for those folks to put themselves squarely in your shoes. They just can’t do it. Once they hear your story, they walk away saying something like, “’That is so sad. I feel so sorry for ______(you). I hope something like that never happens to me.” The person may have directly said to you, “I don’t know how you go on.” And you want to reply something like, “Go on? I don’t really have much of a choice—well, actually, I could take my life and end all this pain.” However, you say nothing and let them walk away carrying their illusions with them. You could grab them by the shoulders, look directly into their eyes and say, “Don’t you get it---what happened to me could happen to you. It could. Don’t fool yourself.” But you don’t. This is one of the reasons we lose friends when tragedy hits our lives. Some of these folks just cannot handle what happened to you. They gradually see that the “old you” is not coming back. So, they leave and return to their illusory life. In a way, you cannot blame them. To see what this death has done to you and your family is almost too much for observers to take in. So, they leave you standing there wondering what happened.
Then, one day, you meet someone who has a similar story. Gone is their illusory warm glow. No need to grab them by the shoulders. They know. Like you they are living a life they never imagined. Like you they’ve watched friends leave. Like you they know the pain of losing someone they love. If you haven’t found these people, I guarantee they are out there—in a support group, on YouTube, on an online chat. If you’ve found these folks, take a moment and, one more time, say “Thank you.” “Thank you for being in my life, for just letting me talk, and cry, and vent, and grieve.” As you may have discovered, these are precious people. And, to them, you are precious as well.