Our Culture Has Labeled Sadness With A Bad Name

  • By Tim Ofield
  • 28 Sep, 2017
Have you thought about the acceptability of sadness? Does our society truly give room to be sad? Tom Golden, provides an insight that questions some of the beliefs our society holds about sadness. The article was written on June 20, 2011 and can be found at webhealing.com

One of the things that makes grief so invisible in our culture is that sadness has a bad name. People think of sadness as something that needs to be hidden, something that others shouldn’t see. It wasn’t always like this. In Chaucer’s time if you ate and drank “sadly” it meant you did it with gusto! The definition of sadness at that time was “fullness of heart.” You know, that feeling you get in your chest just before the tears come? It’s a certain fullness. What a great definition. In fact, one of the roots of the word sad is sate or satisfy. We have taken sadness and turned it into something that it is not.

With this widespread inclination to hide sadness, we who are bereaved are left with an abundance of sadness but very few places to put it. The sad fact is that we are living in a crazy place. Our present-day culture passes judgment on the emotion of sadness and this leaves many of us backlogged with grief and so few places to process the contents. This is a huge problem since it is grief that brings us a deeper sense of compassion for others and an often profound increase in maturity. The Persian poet Rumi said it best when he said: “Grief is the garden of the heart.” Without grief, we are all too often left with a heart that is less than open and understanding. The very thing that brings us depth is what our culture is trying to hide and avoid.

We are truly living in a crazy place.

Tom Golden

Resources for Grief Support

For more resources please see our grief support page with links to informed resources whom we trust.

The Journal | Ofield Funeral Home | Grand Rapids, MI

By Tim Ofield 28 Sep, 2017
Have you thought about the acceptability of sadness? Does our society truly give room to be sad? Tom Golden, provides an insight that questions some of the beliefs our society holds about sadness. The article was written on June 20, 2011 and can be found at webhealing.com

One of the things that makes grief so invisible in our culture is that sadness has a bad name. People think of sadness as something that needs to be hidden, something that others shouldn’t see. It wasn’t always like this. In Chaucer’s time if you ate and drank “sadly” it meant you did it with gusto! The definition of sadness at that time was “fullness of heart.” You know, that feeling you get in your chest just before the tears come? It’s a certain fullness. What a great definition. In fact, one of the roots of the word sad is sate or satisfy. We have taken sadness and turned it into something that it is not.
By Tim Ofield 27 Sep, 2017

In today’s society, there is a correct way to do things and an incorrect way. As we observe our culture, it is rare to see people allow themselves to be vulnerable. “Weak men reveal sadness”. This statement is not true even though our society implies that it is. It takes strength as a man to allow someone to see your emotion. But what if there was a way to express emotion in a completely masculine way? New Zealand’s Haka, or war dance has become famous through its use in sports. But the Haka is used culturally for far more than just sports. It is often used for greeting dignitaries, paying respect to people leaving, and to honor a person. But never is it seen as powerfully than when men and women gather to perform a Haka for someone who has passed.

Below is a video of a military funeral for comrades who were lost in the Afganistan war.

By Tim Ofield 27 Sep, 2017
The following is taken from WebHealing.com , it is an article produced by Tom Gordon in July 2016. The story told reveals a mom’s struggle to connect with her son following the death of his father. While situations may differ, the article offers insight to how some boy’s may grieve and how we can misunderstand them.

A mom came to see me for therapy worried about her 12 year old son. Since her husband’s death her son played basketball. Lots of basketball. Morning, noon and night! When she would try to sit down with him and talk about his father’s death he would clam up and shut down. He didn’t want any part of it. This worried the mom no end. We talked about his relationship with his father and it came out that the boy and his dad played a good deal of basketball together. It was their way to connect. I encouraged the mom to go home and see if she could play some basketball with her son and watch what happened.

She came back the next week a changed woman. She said they played some and the son gave her a hard time about not being able to play like his dad. But playing ball made it easier for him to say he missed his dad. In fact it was the first time he had told her he missed his dad and the first conversation they had about his dad’s absence. They both laughed and cried as they played.

She found out something else that helped her to understand her son. He mentioned to her that the reason he kept practicing was he was trying to make the shot that his father had been encouraging him to make. He called it a “3 pointer” and it was normally out of his range. He had always been too small to make it from that distance. He told his mom with pride that he had made one of those recently and he wanted to make more. He told her that the first time he made the shot he stopped and said aloud “I did it dad” and then burst into tears.  When we talked she realized that his playing ball was connected to his father’s death. In fact, the boy was using a very common masculine healing technique of using the future. He wanted to honor his dad by improving his play and making that shot something that was second nature to him. He wanted to do it for his dad . Can you see how this young man was using the basketball to connect with his father, and to honor his father with his improved play? He was using his action to honor his dad and this pulled him into the future. Can you also see that when he practiced to make the shot and even more when he did make that shot his memories and emotions surrounding his father would be front and center?

If this mom had simply placed her son in therapy she would never have gotten the closeness she found from that short game of basketball.  As you can imagine, she didn’t really need to see me so much after that nor did her son.  She knew she just needed to play a game of Horse with him and she could enter his safe place.   Think about your own son. Where is his safe place? It may not be basketball, but it likely involves some sort of action or inaction.  To learn more about these places and how they work you might want to get a copy of my newest book, Helping Mothers be Closer to Their Sons: Understanding the Unique World of Boys


By Tim Ofield 28 Jul, 2017
Abby has a heart of gold. A warm person with a desire to help and serve families. Many of the people we serve will meet Abby. With a desire to one day become a funeral director. Abby comes into her position here at Ofield Funeral Home motivated to learn and to care for the people she serves. It is evident hearing her speak with families that it means more to her than a place to work. Abby is here because she genuinely cares.
By Tim Ofield 25 Jul, 2017
“Sure, we’d faced some things as children that a lot of kids don’t. Sure, Justin had qualified for his Junior de Sade Badge in his teaching methods for dealing with pain. We still hadn’t learned, though, that growing up is all about getting hurt. And then getting over it. You hurt. You recover. You move on. Odds are pretty good you’re just going to get hurt again. But each time, you learn something.

Each time, you come out of it a little stronger, and at some point, you realize that there are more flavors of pain than coffee. There’s the little empty pain of leaving something behind – graduating, taking the next step forward, walking out of something familiar and safe into the unknown. There’s the big, whirling pain of life upending all of your plans and expectations. There’s the sharp little pains of failure and the more obscure aches of successes that didn’t give you what you thought they would. There are the vicious, stabbing pains of hopes being torn up. The sweet little pains of finding others, giving them your love, and taking joy in their life they grow and learn. There’s the steady pain of empathy that you shrug off so you can stand beside a wounded friend and help them bear their burdens.

And if you’re very, very lucky, there are a very few blazing hot little pains you feel when you realized that you are standing in a moment of utter perfection, an instant of triumph, or happiness, or mirth which at the same time cannot possibly last – and yet will remain with you for life.

Everyone is down on pain, because they forget something important about it: Pain is for the living. Only the dead don’t feel it.

Pain is a part of life. Sometimes it’s a big part, and sometimes it isn’t, but either way, it’s a part of the big puzzle, the deep music, the great game. Pain does two things: It teaches you, tells you that you’re alive. Then it passes away and leaves you changed. It leaves you wiser, sometimes. Sometimes it leaves you stronger. Either way, pain leaves its mark, and everything important that will ever happen to you in life is going to involve it in one degree or another.”
― Jim Butcher

By Tim Ofield 07 Jul, 2017
There is no simple answer to give to a person who has lost someone they love. Every day we meet with people who are dealing with a mother, father, brother sister, cousin, or friend who has passed. You would think that we would find answers, know the right words to say. Yet there is nothing we can say or do that will remove the pain they are experiencing. We recognize that our role is to simply help families deal with the final arrangements. By serving and guiding in a difficult time. There are resources which can help us gain perspective. One such resource is from a Reddit user called /u/GSnow . He identifies himself as an old man. A man who has loved and lost many times. /u/GSnow  responds to someone who lost a child. His heartfelt plea is wise, built from the experience of losing many people.

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes.

My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out. Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”


By Tim Ofield 06 Jul, 2017

In the face of tragedy, or in facing the passing of someone whom we love, it is evident to all of us at Ofield Funeral Home  that every person deals with the grieving process differently.

The way we are wired and the connections we have with others provides us with different skill sets, emotions and reactions to loss.

Some people do not miss a beat when it comes to the grieving process. Life continues on as it did before almost as if nothing has happened.

While others are crippled by it. Their reality might be a complete life change. A loss of the breadwinner, financial stability, or emotional support. In these times our emotional response does not define what is right or wrong. Our experiences are different.

We don’t escape loss, each one of us will one day go through a time of hardship. In this unglamorous time, all of us will all have to come to grips with the circumstances.  By nature for life to continue, we will have to choose to stand up again and move forward.

But the grieving process can be much more difficult for children to deal with. When it comes to children, death can be confusing.

Children don’t always understand that Grandpa will never wake up. That Grandma is not sleeping, or that they are not going to return from a trip.

Too young to understand that death exists children can be left wondering. Our desire may be to try and shelter them from the confusion, to protect them. But there is simply no way to shelter your child from loss experienced by the absence of the person they love.

It can be hard as a parent to know how we should comfort them. Especially when you are also hurting. Or when they do not seem to exhibit grief as we would maybe expect.

ChildMind.org  has some helpful resources to help us understand what might be going on in the mind of our children and how we can approach it. If you are wondering how you can help your child through the grief they are experiencing, or if you are just curious? Please check out the link below.

By Tim Ofield 15 Jun, 2017

Tim Ofield is the owner at Ofield Funeral Home. He is a 5th generation funeral director with a massive heart for his community, which he believes is the best place in the world.

One of the highlights of Tim’s year is crunching through thick bush in Northern Michigan, hot on the tail of his dog Gunner. An alarm rings out as Gunner stops and points. He is hot on the tail of a woodcock or maybe a grouse. Tim is in his element, excitement is high, a competition between himself, his brother and close friends for the bird.

Other mornings, when the sun is just beginning to rise over the waters of Lake Michigan, Tim is out with friends searching for fish. The line runs as a salmon strikes fish is on. Tim passes the line in a friend’s hand spurring them on as they bring in hopefully the next big monster. It is a small secret. Tim gets more enjoyment out of helping someone getting their first fish than bringing it in himself.

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