When we learn of the deaths of people we care about—or the deaths of people who people we care about care about… when we discover, as another dear friend did, that someone we love lost limbs in Afghanistan, it can take a while to sift and sort and make peace with everything the experience brings up.
My friend confessed: “I’m still processing it.” And I said, “There has to be a better word for it than process. It sounds so mechanical.” I knew she would hear my words as honoring what she’s going through rather than criticizing her word choice.
There does need to be a better word for how we move through the experience of deep loss. “Grieving” isn’t big enough—there is more to moving through loss than grief. “Processing” captures some of what happens, but isn’t human enough.
The perfect word may be out there. Or there may not be a perfect word. As a culture, we’re moving from being mechanistic to being more organic. Perhaps the language hasn’t caught up yet.
If you have a better word, I’d love to hear what it is. For lack of a better word, many of us are “processing” quite a bit these days.