A few days ago , a friend ( a member of The Compassionate Friends) and myself agreed to have an interview with Sociology students from the University of the Philippines Diliman . They are currently taking the course Sociology 182 on Qualitative Research Methods. As part of their requirements, they were tasked to accomplish a research paper with a topic of their interest. They chose the topic, “Death and Dying: The Experiences of a Mother at the Sudden Death of her Child“. That’s not a usual topic that students might choose and I was pleased at their choice. Five of us at the Compassionate Friends agreed to help out with their paper. I learned that two members of INA Foundation also participated .
What surprised me is that their professor discouraged them at the choice of their topic. In fact, they were told to drop this topic and choose another one. The professor said that they will not be able to get mothers to talk about their [tag]grief[/tag]. She added that grief is a private matter. But these girls defended their topic and believed that they will be able to get the cooperation of bereaved mothers. True enough, they got the interviews from members of INA Foundation and The Compassionate Friends. In fact they got more mothers than they initially planned.
Unfortunately, we still live in a world where grief is a taboo topic. People who don’t outwardly show grief are said to be ‘strong’ and ‘brave’ while those who show and express feelings are spoken of in derogatory terms such as ‘falling apart’ and ‘going to pieces’ or ‘breaking down’ etc. “She’s not moving on”…In reality the latter are the strong ones, as they don’t care what people think of them when they are responding to grief in a way that is right for them, (crying or being angry etc.) It takes courage to show our emotional pain in public.
Why was it not difficult to talk about our grief? [tag]Bereaved mothers[/tag] (or even fathers) need to talk about the child they have lost. It not only gives us something to do with the energy of grief, but also establishes the continuity of memory and spirit of one who was so much a part of our lives.
Perhaps their professor believed the old school of thought that grief is a private matter and that we should be left alone. That’s what I thought too but it didn’t help me work towards a positive resolution of my grief. There’s a lot to learn about grief. We are not depressed mothers who cry all day and wail over the loss of our child 24/7. There are just difficult moments and that’s when a loving support system is needed. Sometimes families and friends don’t really understand the road we traverse.
[tag]Grief education[/tag] is still at an infancy stage in the Philippines. I know only one grief educator who is none other than my dear friend, Cathy Babao-Guballa. She teaches this course every second semester at the Ateneo College. I don’t think UP Diliman offers this course. There are probably only 3 grief counsellors who bereaved mothers themselves . Grief resources that is peculiar to the Filipino culture is limited. We have the Fallen Cradle book , stories from 22 bereaved parents as a start.
I hope there will more research on grief over the loss of a child and the Filipino culture. The dsicounted grief of siblings and the quiet grief of the fathers is another research topic. I admire these students for being brave enough to pursue a topic that is deemed difficult by their own professor.