Following the announcement of Steve Job’s death, I was so deeply struck at the accounts of people showing up at Apple stores everywhere, putting sticky notes on the windows expressing their feelings, leaving flowers, lighting electronic candles, and connecting with others in their community. For me, as a person who has walked with grieving people for over 15 years, I felt so heartened to see that our society does this much more openly all the time.
Public deaths can help our society learn how to mourn the losses that are closer to us personally. The news stories and poignant photographs brought to mind Dr. William Worden’s Tasks of Mourning:
To confront the reality of the loss: This task involves overcoming disbelief and denial of death by acknowledging and accepting the reality of the death. It’s why people felt drawn to the Apple stores or to share the experience online connecting with others
To express the feelings: A continuation of the first task, but to have an opportunity within communities, either physical or virtual to express the impact.
To find meaning: What does this loss mean to this person at this time in his or her own life? It is said that every loss brings back all our other losses. These experiences all become part of our personal narrative.
To integrate the loss into our lives: Did you notice how many websites had a memorial to Steve Jobs on their opening page? People all over the world needed to express this and honor a person whom I heard referred to as the Thomas Edison of our time. In a news story last night, I heard Steve Wozniak interviewed along with the hundreds of people lined up for the newest version of the iPhone. People were clamoring for the last product that Steve helped to create. That is a tangible piece of continued connection as well as a chance to honor a life that has such a huge ripple effect.
For more information, please find the Griefwords Library of articles by Dr. Alan Wolfelt at www.horancares.com when you click on the Grief Resources tab.
Thank you, Steve Jobs, you’re still creating a tremendous impact in our world… You’re helping people learn to express grief in healthy ways.