Call me aberrant, but when someone has crossed into the undiscovered country (the one from whose bourn no traveler returns), my grief—the extent of which, in general, is governed by the nature and depth of my personal relationship with the deceased—primarily extends to feeling sorry for that person.
After all, it is that person that has died, not me.
Not that there’s anything wrong per se with missing a loved one spirited off to Elysian Fields by the Grim Reaper, but what often seems (in contrast to the Danish prince, I do know seems) to get buried, no pun intended, amid all that sense of personal loss, is a proportionate amount of mourning over the enormity of the loss suffered by the new morgue occupant in consequence of his or her transition.
Think about it:
You’ve lost one person that may have been dear to your heart.
But that person, with one fell swoop of the Reaper’s scythe, has lost everybody dear to them.
Not only everybody, but everything to boot.
They will never again be able to listen to their favorite music, taste their favorite foods, walk through a meadow, play with a kitten, watch a sunset, or pursue any other earthly occupation they enjoyed pursuing while alive.
Whatever plans they may have had in this world are irrevocably canceled.
And all that in addition to the fact that they’ve been deprived of your precious company for good.
That’s because they’ve lost their entire life, including everyone and everything in it—how does this stack up to your loss of exactly one person in yours?
Methinks that to focus on “I miss him (or her)” to the exclusion, or near-exclusion, of evincing much (or any) concern over everything the missed party is now missing out on weighs a bit heavily on the selfish side of the grief spectrum.
By fixing the lion share of our attention upon our loss, we tend to forget about their loss, as if it didn’t matter.
In this article on gun safety, a grieving mother discusses having lost her son to a firearm accident:
That “playful” action destroyed my life and created a sorrow in me that will never go away.
Notice how she points out that the accident destroyed her life rather than his.
Death ought to be less about us, the so-called “bereaved,” and more about the dead.
Because they’ve been bereaved of more.