Grief is an isolating experience. No one can truly appreciate what you are going through while you fight to accept the loss of a loved one. We are all unique in personalities and the ways in which we cope. We are also unique in the relationship we had with the one we lost. Therefore, no two people will experience grief in the same way, As close as I am with my siblings, the four of us experience our grief differently and at different times. As close as we all were with our parents we each had special relationships with our mom and dad. Even though my siblings and I understand each other better than anyone else we still don't know exactly what each one of us are going through. We will all heal in different ways.
I love my husband and he loves me in more ways than I can adequately express with words. He supports me in every facet of my life, but truth be told, my grief has been a challenge we have had to work through. He does not understand, and I would not understand if the situation were reversed. Men are naturally programmed to be pragmatic. They are problem solvers and their genetic makeup was created thousands of years ago to care for and protect their loved ones. Realistically, it should not be simplified to say only men are programmed to protect their loved ones. We all want to protect the people we care about…man, woman, child.
But the grief stricken cannot be protected. They cannot be fixed. Grief cannot be removed or ignored. It is ever present and continuously changes form. Grief is like an octopus grabbing you with its tentacles one by one. Sometimes grabbing you all at once. The more you fight it, the longer the hold remains. Slowly it may release its grip, only to find its way back again when you least expect it.
This can be very difficult for a partner, a friend, a parent or a child to accept. They love us and they feel helpless to make us better. No prodding, prying or pulling can release the grip of grief. The only solitude and saving grace for the grieving is to be reminded they are not alone and they are loved. Remind them their tears will be understood.
When you lose someone you love, you lose more than their presence in your life. You lose your sense of self. You not only grieve your loved one, you grieve all the pieces of yourself you lost when they died. A new self is born.
Sometimes I find myself marveling at all the things that have changed within me. My purpose in life has become my biggest unanswered question. The quest for the answer has become my biggest objective. Time has becomes a richer commodity and time with my family has become my most valued priority. Many of my relationships changed. The circle of friendships has become smaller as I socialize less. I am no longer the person who assumes the role of making other people feel happy. It’s hard to make others feel happy when you are a little short on resources yourself.
People may shy away from you unsure of what to say. They may feel nervous they will say a word or a phrase reminding you of what you’ve lost. They may be afraid of bringing tears to your eyes. The reality is, you are never not thinking of your loved ones. It is forever present. And the tears….the tears are a welcome release from what you are continuously holding back. Bringing tears to a grief stricken heart gives them a momentary vacation from the continuous strain of stifling the pain and tears. Laughter maybe doesn’t happen as freely, but when it does, it feels euphoric. With every ring of laughter you can feel a broken piece of you begin to mend.
I believe there is one universal truth about grief which I believe is a necessary step to heal. It was a truth that brought me to my knees when it was said to me.
You must accept your life will never be the same.
A hard, but necessary truth. Once you stop trying to claw your way back to your old life, you can learn in time to find happiness in your new life. You will take the good and the bad with you. It is part of your heart and part of your soul. It will teach you and guide you. It will make you more compassionate and make life more meaningful.
With every breath you take and every tear you shed you will begin to build the bridge, one board at a time. You will build your way back to the world that is waiting for you with open arms. It will look different, feel different. It is different. But it is life. A life your loved ones would want you to live with your whole heart.