What We Can Learn from Whitney Houston's Sudden Death

Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston

We don’t want to think about it, much less talk about it, but grief brought on by loss of a loved one will visit us all one day.

Whether  the loved one is a celebrity we never met, or a loved one whose terminal illness dragged on for years, we are never prepared for the grief we feel on their final day.

Years ago when my mother was placed in the critical care unit of the hospital, I was trying to be prepared for her death. When the social worker came in to talk to me I expected him to console me and offer me ways to deal with the inevitable grief. Instead, he urged me to use this time to think about how I wanted my own death handled by leaving instructions on an Advanced Directive form. On this form you  identify how you wanted your final health care handled when you can no longer  make those decisions for yourself. (Get a copy from your state, even though you are advised to seek legal assistance as well.)

At first I was appalled. How could he ask me to plan for my own death while I was anticipating that of my mother?

But in restrospect, I understand the importance and wisdom of some planning.

While you can plan for your own health decisions, how can you plan for the grief you experience when you’re the one left behind?

According to Judy Brizendine, author of Stunned by Grief, the pain is unbearable.  In our search for quick relief we often begin to hurl blame at everyone from God to the deceased.  Other times we decide to cover up our grief with alcohol, drugs or risky behavior, pretending we’re okay and moving on. And yet, the pain persists, even when we attempt to bury it.

Buried grief will find a way to surface in some area of your life.

Even though most of us won’t have the  public witness our death or the news media probe to see how our friends and  family cope with grief, as in the case of  Whitney Houston, we can learn that in grief we are all the same.

To move from grieving to healing we must all take some important steps. Brizendine suggests that we

  • acknowledgement that we are grieving
  • get an anchor, preferably someone who has been through it and who will help you when you fall

Learn more from Brizendine when she was my radio guest on Monday, February 20, 2012 in the episode, Recovering from Loss, at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/florabrown/2012/02/20/recovering-from-loss

What can we learn from Whitney Houston’s sudden death?

Death is inevitable, and it is an end.

But it’s a beginning too.

What follows that beginning depends on how we manage our grief.