In the past year, I’ve learned more about grief and the grieving process than I thought possible. I never presumed to know all about this category, but I didn’t expect to have so many new lessons all at once. My hope in sharing is that others realize they are not alone in their grief.
What is grief? When does it happen?
Grief is defined as a “deep sorrow following a loss” or informally “trouble or annoyance.” Loss comes in all shapes and sizes. A few examples include the loss of a job, the transition of a move, and the death of our loved ones. With each of these, there is the physical loss, where something is removed from our lives but there is also an “existential” loss – the loss of hopes and dreams surrounding that job, place, or person.
Over the past year, I’ve realized that in some ways, those potential moments, the ones not experienced, a life cut short, can create waves as big as those of memory.
One of the biggest challenges (and there are many) when you’re in the midst of grief is taking care of yourself. Get rest. Eat smaller, healthy meals. Invest in your closest relationships.
Experience the waves
The temptation is to avoid the thoughts and memories, but the waves will come regardless. Experiencing the waves, feeling all the things, is vital to healing. Learning to surf, rather than be overtaken takes time. Even as you navigate the waves, some will catch you off guard. Some will be easier than others. Avoidance only hurts you.
The thoughts and emotions of grief are valid, even the unpleasant ones.
People talk about their sadness, about missing their loved one. Most of the time though, underneath those “acceptable” thoughts, others go unvoiced. Perhaps something good came out of a loss, something that maybe wouldn’t have happened without that loss. As a person of Faith, I believe that God has a plan and doesn’t waste a single tear. I believe each life touches many others, creating ripples. I also believe that even though we don’t understand it, God does and He is big enough to handle those hidden thoughts and provide peace and comfort.
Grief is an all-encompassing emotional experience. Grieving includes every other emotion. Sometimes you will be angry. Sometimes you will be sad. Sometimes you will laugh. Sometimes you will feel all the things at the same time. Grief is exhausting, physically and emotionally.
Grief takes up a lot of brain space
Even if you didn’t talk to your loved one daily, suddenly they move to the forefront of your mind. Everything reminds you of them. A song on the radio. Something another person does or says. Something you watch. A memory on Facebook. Because grief has moved in, other things are pushed back. Brain fog and forgetfulness become more common. Give yourself some grace. Write things down. Have a trustworthy friend that you can share with to help you remember.
You are not alone
You have a God who understands. Any loss we’ve faced, any pain we’ve experienced, He’s been there! God knows the pain of losing a friend, a parent, and a child. God knows the pain of being rejected and disappointed. He also knows those things are not the end and makes a way for beauty to rise from the ashes.