What is this Thing Called Grief?

There should be more lessons on grieving and loss growing up, just like we learn Math and History. We teach our children everything from how to tie their shoes, sports, how to treat others, even teach them how to help someone who is choking. We do not however, teach them how to navigate loss. I was not aware of this until I read The Grief Recovery Method Handbook and attended their workshop and training. I had the most phenomenal mother one could be blessed to have, but I don’t remember ever sitting down for a lesson in grief. Maybe we did, but my guess is, we continued on with life attending services, providing meals, sending cards and all the expected activities. My 8 year old cousin died when I was in Middle School and I remember it. I remember the sadness and I attended her funeral. I don’t remember anyone really talking about the loss, but more about the accident. Her family had stopped on the Lee Bridge to help a stranded motorist and a drunk driver came down the hill, hitting and killing her and severely injuring her mother. After that we went back to work or school and no one talked about it anymore. It was a part of life and something you had to “deal with” and “get over”. This was also something our parents had learned growing up and their parents before them. What happens in situations like this is we emulate the behaviors of the person or persons we trust the most and of course we pass on that learned behavior. Our society as a whole, sucks at grief, but it’s not anyone’s fault. I am blessed with people who even if they don’t understand or know what comforting words to offer, they are present. The best thing you can offer a grieving person is your time, even if it is just a few minutes.

The world is a scary place and what is more frightening than losing someone you dearly love. Can you grieve over someone you did not feel love for? The answer is an absolute yes. You can grieve over any type of loss whether it be by death, divorce, a move, job change, loss of health and many, many more. It is probably the most underrated human emotion. It is an overwhelming sadness that something has changed and you miss what you had or should have had. Grief steps in and becomes your copilot in life. It has a seat in your car, a chair at the dinner table, even goes to bed with you at night. If you embrace it, that friendship will last a lifetime. Thing is, you never get over it, so let it be your friend. You can’t go around it, you must go through it to ever see the other side.

Do you ever stop loving someone you lose to death? I don’t think that is possible, but what I do believe is the depth of the grief reflects the depth of the love. I love Rick with all my heart and I believe I will grieve that same way. Grief is not a bad thing, it is the thing that gets you to the next place, whatever that is.

Watching others grieve is painful for us also. My daughters are grieving the loss of their dad and observing that is like watching someone flailing in the water, trying not to drown. I don’t know what that feels like because I didn’t grow up with my dad. I didn’t have that closeness they had, I didn’t experience that relationship. What a blessing that they experienced something that special. Seeing my grandchildren grieve their Poppy makes my heart hurt. It is truly physical pain and leaves me exhausted. Rick’s many friends have suffered this loss in a way that is so touching. How can someone affect people that way? Rick left his mark for sure, on his family and on his countless friends. We will grieve for him because we will love him forever.

This quote I got at the National Compassionate Friends Conference:

“When you lose a parent, you lose your past. When you lose a spouse, you lose your present and When you lose your sibling you lose your past, your present and your future.”

I think this states unequivocally that each loss is different so grief will be different for each of us. You hurt for what you are missing and you hurt for each other. How can you help someone else when your pain is so deep? Love is always the central theme and continuing to acknowledge and honor that love is the vehicle that will propel you forward, sometimes getting stuck for a bit then slowly inching forward again.

What is this thing called grief? It’s merely love trying to find its way out of the maze…

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