I have a confession to make. Growing up I never experienced death first-hand. I never lost a pet. I’ve never had anyone close to me die. Sure, I’ve lost distant relatives. But I have never lost someone who was a daily part of my life, no one close to me. Strangely, I think this has done me a great disservice. Grief and loss is an integral part of life. Things are born and things die. People are born and people die. Relationships are born and relationships die. It is the cycle of life.
I believe Grief 101 should be a required elective in college or even high school. We don’t know how to deal with loss on many levels and we don’t know how to provide understanding and support to those in our lives who are experiencing it. Why? Because we’ve never been taught. Sadly, in our fast-food society we have a very low tolerance for discomfort and we think people should ‘get over it’ or ‘just move on’…. whatever ‘it’ is.
My gut punch grief experience came to me in the form of a divorce. After 26+ years with the same man and 2 beautiful children, loss was looking me straight in the face. The truth of the matter is my divorce was the biggest gift I’ve ever received. I know that to be true deep in my core, but there is no short-cutting the grief process. So what’s the big deal? you may ask. If it was a gift, why so sad? Grief cannot be avoided in these losses, even if you are grieving what never truly existed but should have. I was forced to face that I was no longer a wife, no longer a daily mother to my two kids and I now had to figure out how to be single at 45 years old and do life on my own. I had to face that people lie, they cheat, they are disloyal and even after making vows at an altar, they give up. When it’s something you would never have chosen you are faced with accepting your powerlessness in the decisions of others.
That’s my experience. Maybe you’ve caused someone else great loss. Maybe you’ve lost a child, a home, a job, your health, a dream…. Whatever your losses, they are real. They deserve to be grieved. I urge you to not be in a hurry.
I’ve learned that grief comes into our lives almost daily. From losing our keys to getting to the restaurant to find out they’re out of salmon on the menu. I really wanted the salmon!
There’s a process.
denial & isolation
Grief is not linear. You will move in and out of these points in no particular order. From the menial to the major we all grieve. I just want to create awareness so you will begin to embrace the process. You are not weird or broken. You are not weak or over-sensitive. You are human and we all grieve. The disservice you do to yourself is not acknowledging what you feel is real. It’s OK and you’re OK. The sooner you accept that you’ve lost something, the sooner the healing can begin.
Grief can come in waves. I love to surf and I liken the grief process to the ocean. Waves roll in as sets. Sometimes grief comes over you to the point where you cannot catch your breath and you wonder if it’s going to drown you. Then the waves subside, there is a lull and you think, man I think I’m coming out of this. Then something triggers you, and the waves come crashing again. But the longer you swim, the stronger you get.
What I need you to know is that the sooner you get in the water the sooner you will get stronger and heal. Feel the feelings. Talk about it with someone safe. Journal about it. Talk to a professional. Attend a grief recovery group. But I can promise you this, time does NOT heal all wounds. To get out, you must go through. And it’s gonna suck. But it is worth it.
I would love for you to comment below on your losses. Even if it’s one word like Mom or career. Let’s not grieve alone.
We’ve all lost something and we need each other…
If you would like to learn more about the grief process read more about it here.