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January 13, 2011
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“Mopespace” is an important vocabulary word in our house.

(It’s pronounced “mope space.”)

We created it in reaction to the fact that when an adult (A) is sad, other adults who love them (B, C, or D) have a tendency is to try to talk them out of it, or convince them that things aren’t so bad, or to remind A about the great stuff.

That’s all well and good sometimes, because sometimes a gloomy A just needs a little perspective, or even a distraction.

But sometimes A needs to be able to complain or realize that things aren’t what they want them to be and adjust to them. A needs space to mope. It’s not always easy or natural for B, C, or D to grant mopespace to A, though.

(If you are trying to figure out who the letters pertain to, they pertain to everyone. Everyone is A. Everyone is B or C or D. It’s just the way that things seem to be as an adult.)

This is how a conversation might go, let’s say on the telephone.

B: “How are you doing?”

A: “Enh, you know. This week I just feel like

  • an old person
  • my foot will never heal
  • I’ll never make my first million
  • I’m the last person on earth who isn’t married
  • they should just throw me into debtor’s prison because that’s where I belong
  • my muscles emigrated to an unknown Spanish-speaking country over the holidays
  • I might be myopic
  • I wish my sibling didn’t die
  • I’ll never get pregnant
  • I’ll be pregnant forever
  • other
  • all of the above

Then B needs to decide what to do, and often comes up with something like this:

B: “Oh, really? But everything is really pretty great, if you look at it from this other angle, which is mine and not yours, and not even necessarily truthfully mine, but I don’t know how to comfort you when you’re sad and ‘dead air’ on the phone makes me really uncomfortable.”

In this common scenario, mopespace has not been granted from B to A.

There is a stunning quantity of moping to be done before at at the instance of a loved one’s death, and I’ve needed space to do it, but it’s not good to take up all of the oxygen on earth to do it.

For a long time I have paid someone to discuss this and other things with me, and it’s been helpful to rent some time to dedicate to problems, and also to get some perspective.

Last week, I started a new project, which is bereavement counseling.

Death is death is death, and it happens to everyone, and it is everywhere, and is by definition quotidian, though it’s also totally profound. And I’ve been stunned from the very beginning at what a rippling 3-D experience my sister’s illness and ALS diagnosis and death were.

The bereavement group is just six week program but everyone who is going has lost someone to ALS and is trying to make some sense of it. It’s sort of like getting an extra storage locker of mopespace.

We’re not supposed to talk about the counseling, but we did agree that there doesn’t seem to be a lot of space for grieving in daily life and that hopefully this will give us all some of that. And kudos once again to the ALS Association for organizing services for people in need of them!

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Heather permalink
    January 13, 2011 8:20 pm

    Wait, it’s not pronounced MOE pes PAH che? Also, the adults in my house have a lot to learn about mopespace. I call it processing, but the other adult just calls it complaining. It is just like you said. Thanks for saying it.

  2. January 13, 2011 11:47 pm

    Yes, I think Heather must be right on the pronunciation. I am pretty sure it is Italian.
    And I am pretty glad you have a group like that to provide a mopeannex for you because even though it is not good to take up all the air, you are perfectly entitled to whatever extra amounts of mopespace you need. Also one thing I have really come to appreciate in the last few years is how great it is, when you are forced into a club you never wanted to join, to at least get to go to some of the meetings. There is something very powerful about being in a room with a bunch of people who are going through the same damn thing you are.

  3. January 14, 2011 1:04 pm

    I love the idea of mopespace, and having a mopeannex. I’m going to work that into our lives right away.

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