“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”
~ John Steinbeck
Grief is a unique experience.
Unlike major depression, social anxiety, OCD, addiction and PTSD, we have all experienced (or will experience) it at some point in our lives.
Whether it is the loss of a friend, a family member, a partner, a pet, a job, or a home, grief is a by-product of the loss. There can’t be a loss without some kind of emotional response.
Depending on our upbringing, our culture, our generation and our gender, we may not think that the grief we’re experiencing is “appropriate” or the what we “should” be feeling. Maybe we’ve been told that it’s not okay to cry or that we should be completely be okay with the loss in just a few days or weeks. Then there are also those of us who don’t know how to deal with such feelings so we find ourselves trying to fill that void with substances (like alcohol, drugs, or food), gambling, sex, overspending or work.
Many of us are completely in the dark when it comes to finding ways to deal with such tragic circumstances. So we go back to our work and live our lives as if nothing happened, because that’s what our society expects of us.
Overtime, we may wonder why we find ourselves experiencing waves of sadness or anger at random times throughout our day. Or maybe, in the brief quiet moments of the night when everyone else is asleep, we find ourselves in tears… and we can’t quite understand why.
Grief is mysterious.
It is painful.
It is heart-wrenching.
It is confusing.
We never know when it’s going to stop.
And just when we think we’re okay, another little piece of grief floats to the surface.
Will the pain ever go away? we may wonder.
In some cases the pain eventually does go away. In others, there may forever be a void like a scar on the heart.
In either case it is okay.
Because, ultimately, its not about taking away a feelings of grief. It’s about acceptance.
It’s about learning to notice the grief and allowing it to be what it is.
It’s not about stuffing it away and forcing one’s self to ignore it.
It’s not about trying to force one’s self to feel okay about it after a few weeks, months or years.
And it most certainly isn’t about following a “stages of grief” formula.
Grief just as what it is.
When we’re able to fully accept and acknowledge that reality, that is where the true healing comes.
“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”