We grieve a loss of some kind. In fact, we can physically feel it – the heavy anguish. Everyone at some point will go through it.
‘Heavy’ – that could stand alone in defining the tolls taken on our physical, emotional, and spiritual body.
“It just hurts so much.”
“I can’t take one more thing!”
“I am just so tired.”
I have lost track of how many times those exact phrases have escaped from my mouth over the last year and a half. Do ya’ll feel that exhaustion? It is due to grief being weighted. It is experienced in fluid stages within your personal journey- yet those same stages of grief are universally experienced.
We know how it starts. An event resulting in irreparable loss occurs. The waves start. There is denial, anger, then bargaining, depression, and accepting the finality of the loss. Those stages are often referred to as ‘tools’ (maybe because when trudging through certain stages, we tend to want to break things?) But through them all, there is no timeline or date of completion. There is no finish line or graduation ceremony from grief. You may skip a step. You may feel stuck in one longing to revisit other stages that felt more comfortable.
As long as you are functioning in this realm, then you will never not be processing, inspecting, and discovering. You will never not be feeling. There are wounds. There is regrowth. There are scars. We can weave in and out of all three.
But nothing is final. No grief stage and no feeling within it is either. You might very well be experiencing more of one than the other, balancing multiple feelings moment by moment or feeling absolutely stuck in the pit of the pit. Know that it’s not final.
There is also no approved list of what or who we are allowed or expected to grieve over.
A woman will grieve the physical loss of her wife. She will also grieve the emotional loss of her grand expectations of what life would look like together. She will grieve what is and what will never be. We grieve over the death of people. We grieve the death of dreams with those who are now deceased.
A husband will grieve the loss of his marriage, the loss of his wife’s presence in his life, and the crumbling walls around him that he thought were fail-proof. We grieve over the death of relationships with those we love who are still alive.
Your beloved family dog is slowly declining in health. After twelve years with him by your side, you hold his paw and whisper goodbyes as he transitions from this life to the next. We grieve over the death of pets. (This loss is more painful than many realize)
The medical diagnosis, life-altering news from the doctor, and hearing that your child may never live independently or lead a typical adult life – will place you right among the presence of other grievers. We grieve over the death of expectations we have for those we love who are still alive.
Be reminded that even though one story may end, another story still needs to be told. You are strong enough to turn the page even when you never imagined having to rewrite it drastically.
My friend, Rev. Mindi Moore, recently shared about her grieving process following the diagnosis of her young son with type 1 diabetes. She felt fear, deep sadness, and loads of anxiety. One thing she was very clear to acknowledge was this:
“I am under no obligation to be bitter,” she said, “No obligation at all.”
That hit me. Bitterness will pick and rip at any amount of healing you have worked for. It literally will suck any amount of joy that you are desperately working so hard to build.
My kids love to take a flashlight and go ‘On a Bear Hunt.’ They march around the house and loudly proclaim with each obstacle – “You can’t go over it. You can’t go under it. You can’t go around it. You just have to go through it.”
Whether your loss is a wound, a scar, or somewhere in-between, keep going through it. Grieve at whatever volume you need. Give voice to the heaviness and allow others to help hold you up.
Keep turning the page. Keep going through it.
National Grief Awareness Day is August 30th. Its purpose is to bring awareness to the diverse ways people grieve and mourn throughout their lifetime and ways you can help others with their grief. If you or someone you love is experiencing emotional crisis please text SOS to 741741. Additional grief resources HERE!