Grief can be described as a feeling of intense sorrow, especially when caused by the death of a loved one. When it overcomes you, it can be unmistakeably transparent, manifesting itself physically through tear-filled eyes, aged faces and worn out bodies. But it is not always so clear to see; Sometimes grief can hide behind a smile and instead manifest itself internally, often making it difficult for us to reach out and help those who are suffering.
Human diversity and complexity of the mind make grief hard to standardize and understand. Yes, the five stages of grief put forward by Elisabeth Kubler Ross (denial, anger, bargaining, depression & acceptance) can be used as a starting point to try and make sense of the struggle and are definitely all experienced as part of grief, however we are all profoundly different and therefore naturally have different coping mechanisms.
This year, I encountered real, raw grief for the first time. When your heart is shattered to pieces in the blink of an eye, you become an entirely different version of yourself. Positivity is replaced by negativity, joy by sorrow, love by hatred, and no words of ‘wisdom’ telling you “suffering is a part of life” & “everything happens for a reason” are able to soothe the pain. Because the truth is, death has no logic or reasoning, especially that of a young person with so much more life yet. Death is cruel and chaotic, as is it’s ripple effect of grief.
We fracture in grief, but we do not break. We move on, but we do not forget. We take our loved ones with us every single day. They guide us, help us make decisions, help us put things into perspective, and perspective is important. We learn the unfortunate truth that we must accept the things we cannot change no matter how much we’d like to, and in turn we learn the valuable ability to foucus on the things we can. And while that little ache in our heart always remains, the overwhelming & negatively life-altering grief does not have to.
Tomorrow is National Grief Awareness Day. Take part by reaching out & listening. Don’t reason, don’t force, don’t analyse, just listen. Be particularly mindful of those who may be suffering in silence, and try not to do the same. Trust your ability to heal, trust your ability to love. Cherish the precious memories of your fallen loved ones, and count your lucky stars that in this all too short lifetime, you had the pleasure of calling them a grandparent, a lover, a mother, a father, a friend.
“Grief never ends… But it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith… It is the price of love.”