Major Pettigrew and Mrs. Ali have both lost their spouses. How do you think relationships formed in grief are different from those that are not?
Join Date: 11/16/10
Join Date: 04/21/11
This is an interesting question because grief is an intense experience, similar to relationships that are formed by people serving in the military or in college or other such situations. I think the particular grief over a spouse, especially a much-loved spouse, is a very hard to overcome and can be especially bonding if you recognize that another understands that grief. Toward the end of the book, Major Pettigrew even commented that he felt comfortable speaking of his late wife with Mrs. Ali.
Join Date: 05/07/11
Sometimes rebound relationships following death or divorce are destructive. I had the feeling that though both the Major and Mrs. Ali had spouses that had died, enough time had passed that they were ready to move forward with a new relationship that fit them both beautifully.
Join Date: 05/07/11
I think these relationships may become deeper more quickly than those formed without the grief factor because of the vulnerability of those involved. I appreciated the ability to observe this friendship moving somewhat slowly, but always with a sense of irrevocable triumph, even if existing only within the characters' subconsious minds. And I was filled with empathy toward the Major as he realizes, in bits and starts, the degree to which the presence of Mrs. Ali in his life enriches it - as well as his ability to stand outside himself and be gently self-mocking.
Join Date: 05/05/11
I don't think this is as unique to relationships formed in grief as it is a case of connecting with someone who has gone through a similar life-changing event as you have. I had no real concept of what it was like to lose a parent until I lost one and it is so helpful to connect with someone who has also lost a parent because you don't have to explain anything. They just get it. But I also found my new moms group invaluable when I had young children and my husband and I often classify friends now as "haves" and " have nots." as in those that have had teenagers and those that have not! So I think the bond is from going through a similar circumstance more than anything.
Join Date: 04/13/11
I think that grief is often hard for others not experiencing it at that time to deal with or completely understand or remain sympathetic to. We expect people to experience grief initally but when that grief seems to continue on for an extended period, people tend to start avoiding that person so when two people that are both in that type of situation, meet and realize that they both understand the other one and can relate to them, I think they get much closer, much faster than other people.
Join Date: 05/08/11
I believe that relationships formed in grief are different and maybe are not formed for the right reasons. But, I do not think that applies at all in Major Pettigrew. I don't think either he or Mrs. Ali are still actively grieving their spouses. I don't think anyone who loses a loved one ever stops grieving in some way but there is a difference in early grief and after a number of years have gone by.
I think the real question would be are relationships formed between two people who had previous committed relationships different than those between people who have never been in a committed relationship and I think the answer to that is yes.
They both are looking for the same feeling of being comfortable with each other. They are looking for the same sense of knowing what the other is thinking or will do. They don't want surprises, etc. I think that Major Pettigrew feels this instantly with Mrs. Ali but it is awhile before he understands what it is that he is feeling.
Join Date: 05/19/11
We all look for common ground in our relationships whether it be a love of tennis, theater going or grief.
Although having interests in common is the basis for most relationships, emotions and difficult experiences seem to bond people even closer. Perhaps the complexity and strength of feelings that arise from some trauma lend themselves to an "aha" moment when we feel understood by someone who is or has been in the same place.
Join Date: 11/14/11
I imagine that having a relationship with someone who has also gone through the trauma of grieving would be a strong connection. If the grief is new, it might be such a relief to have someone who really understands, that it would be enough at first. A person could disregard whether there is anything else in common, or whether there would be an attraction in other circumstances.
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