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Column: The wild child grief
by Lauretta Hannon
March 20, 2014 10:22 AM | 4659 views | 0 0 comments | 72 72 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Lauretta Hannon
Lauretta Hannon
Q: After you have lost someone — in my case a parent who has died — how do you move on without feeling like you are betraying them? What’s the window for grieving? I was reading Joan Didion’s book, “The Year of Magical Thinking,” and she talks about how current times propel you forward out of grief quickly — back to work and school and everyday routines — and often you still feel empty and broken.

But what about those of us who didn’t need all that time? Or that felt mourning was too arduous to indulge in? How do you reconcile being fine with losing the person who helped raise you and not feel like the most awful, selfish person on Earth?

A: There are no rules or boundaries related to grief. She is a wild child indeed. Grief manifests differently in each person because each loss is different. Many factors could be at play here, but I suspect your situation relates to the kind of relationship you had with your parent.

When my maternal grandmother died, I didn’t grieve. Not one bit. My sadness was for my mother and other family members. My grandmother had been unwavering in her meanness toward me as I was growing up, and she never changed that or attempted any kind of relationship.

I felt guilty for not feeling anything when she died, but I wasn’t going to fake it either. Instead, I refocused and made it my mission to support my mom as much as possible through her grieving.

Was your relationship with the deceased difficult, distant, or rocky at times? Was it fraught with issues and challenges caused by that person? If so, I think it makes sense that you didn’t grieve a great deal.

It would also be normal if you had a sibling who mourned deeply and for a very long time. You see, grief is an entirely individual thing. The same death that brings one person to her knees might barely faze the next one. This is all part of the process of adjusting and letting go.

Speaking of letting go, I’d recommend that you release the self-criticism. It really is okay that you are okay and moving on. And don’t forget that our grief response can mirror what we got in life from the deceased.

Q: There are people I know who give the family dog dishes or mixing bowls to lick when they have finished with them and then place the “licked clean” items in the dishwasher. I’m not certain that these dishes are rinsed before being placed with other “non-licked” items.

Sometimes tidbits are offered to the dog from what is being eaten, given from the fork or spoon being used. The food given is nothing harmful, but I question the sanitation and reasonableness of these practices. I have not voiced my concerns since I am not sure whether they are valid. Your opinion will be appreciated.

A: Well, instead of my answer, I’d like to know what readers have to say to this question. That means YOU! Please send your responses to I’ll print some of your comments next week.

Send your questions to

Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of “The Cracker Queen — A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life” and a keynote speaker. Southern Living has named her “the funniest woman in Georgia.” See more at

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