Grief Is Really Just Love
This quote really spoke to me because somehow when anything really hard enters my life, this is how I always handled it. In my mind I have this room and it has shelves with boxes of all sizes. When I am overwhelmed with pain or any other negative emotion I don’t know how to handle, I go into this room and pull down a box and put the story I am telling myself inside of the box. Then I let the story go.
When some time has passed to where I feel I can handle some of that pain, I will pull down the box, work through what I can and then put the remainder inside a smaller box. I do this over and over until one day it is just an empty box. The pain is gone, the story has “the end” typed onto it.
Grief is like the ocean; it comes in waves, ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swinm” – Vicki Harrison
Those boxes are my way of swimming.
When deaths nightmare enters your life, people will ask you – “How are you?” And when they ask you, you will quickly filter through a million answers. And the one you will land on most of the time is “I’m fine.”
I’m fine, are two words when strung together actually say the opposite. They say I am lying to you, because it is too hard and too much to tell you how I am really doing. And really you don’t want to know, because then you will be at a loss of how to respond. So, instead I am going to say, “I’m fine” and you will be relieved of any burden to fix it or make me feel better.
When someone has lost a loved one, instead of asking how they are feeling, ask can I give you a hug? Will you give me the honor and privilege of letting me support you even if it is only for a minute? Can I tell you from my heart that I know your heart is breaking and just let me hold you for a minute or two so that you can borrow some of my strength and love to carry you just a little further down this dark hallway?
“Grief is a solitary journey. No one but you can know how great the hurt is. No one but you can know the gaping hole left in your life when someone you know has died. And no one but you can mourn the silence that was once filled with laughter and song. It is the nature of love and death to touch every person in a totally unique way. Comfort comes from knowing that people have made the same journey, and solace comes from understanding how others have learned to sing again” – Helen Steiner Rice
No one can grieve for you. But they can grieve with you. No one will ever fill the hole that has been shot through your heart, but they can help heal the edges of it. No one can fill up all of the silence when you mind reaches for the sound of the voice that is missing, but they can help you to hear the voices that are still there. This journey of loss is yours alone, as each of us grieve in different ways for those we lose. Each loss is a totally different kind of grief.
But the comfort comes from listening to those who have a similar story, a similar loss. When my mother died, I found so much comfort from words I remembered from an NPR interview. They were talking about grief, and they said, “grief is a hole you walk around during the day and fall into at night.” During the day, you can be busy and keep the grief locked up behind a fence. But at night that grief slips through the fence, slides under the door, and creeps up to engulf you so tightly that you can’t breathe.
A few weeks ago, one of my nieces lost her son to suicide. For our family, this is a new grief. A devasting kind of loss, because it naturally makes you ask why? Why didn’t I know he would do this? Why didn’t I question how he was really feeling? Why couldn’t I tell what was going to happen? Why didn’t anyone see it coming?
There is the infamous hindsight, where every action, every sentence he said is questioned – was that a clue? So much self-blame to go around. And none of that self-blame is true.
“There are losses that rearrange the world. Deaths that change the way you see everything, grief that tears everything down. Pain that transports you to an entirely different universe, even while everyone else thinks nothing has changed” – Morgan Devine
They say that there are things in life that will change you. Some things like music and art open the world up to you in ways that can never be taken away. They fill your soul and help you to lead a life of passion and joy. Art and music can open you up to every single emotion. It can bring you up into the heavens. It can take you into the darkness and threaten to drown your soul.
There are other things in life, like love that change you forever, as well as being subject to loss. And loss is in a category of itself in being a life changer.
When you experience loss, it is important to remember that you are a brave soul. That this is a battle that feels never ending, but that is losses lie. It is losses untruth that keeps you drowning in grief, when in fact if you just took a moment and tried, you would find you can stand up and bring your head up above the water. You could take a deep breath and just breathe. Water isn’t what drowns you. What drowns you is forgetting to stand.
“I don’t believe that time heals everything. It helps, it does. After a while you won’t cry about it all the time. It won’t consume your every thought anymore. You do get better. You’ll laugh, and smile. You’ll even have a lot of great days. But it’s still there. You just learn to live with it. This is how things are now. So, you get used to it. But that doesn’t mean it ever goes away. It’s still deep in your soul. Still makes you cry when you think about it too much. Still stops you in your tracks when something reminds you of it. You’ll have those moments when your heart hurts really bad. I don’t think time heals everything. Sure, it gets better, but it’s a scar that never goes away. A broken bone that still aches on rainy days” – Melinda Caroline
The thing to remember is that life changes. Every moment it changes. Years ago, after my nephew was murdered, and our family was struggling to understand what had happened I came across a story from a grief counselor. She was talking to a woman whose baby had died. It had been close to a year, and she just wasn’t getting any better in dealing with her grief. She finally sought help because she thought, “I’m doing grief wrong.”
The counselor told her, “The amount of grief you feel, is comparable to the amount of love you had for your child.” There is no right way or wrong way to grieve. There is only your way.
“You care so much you feel as though you will bleed to death with the pain of it.” – J Rowling, Harry Potter
What is important is that you don’t get stuck. It doesn’t matter how many stages of grief that you go through. There isn’t any kind of order that you have to follow. What is important is that it flows. Like water it flows toward a destination. It might become hard like ice. It might be hot and angry like steam. It might be like a flood or a simple drip. What’s important is that it flows. Because what it does is remake your life. You become forever changed by it. Just don’t forget the second part. When it remakes your life, it begins a new chapter.