Talking about Grief, or: The Losses that Define Us
A while ago, at a workshop, I had a conversation with another participant about grief, and it made me think of times when I was going through the same raw experience, the helpful advice I got back then, and what I learned in the process. So I thought, for once I’d share that. This is uncomfortable, of course, both to write and to read, but I feel strongly that we need to learn to hold space for this discomfort if we want to support others who are grieving and want to not beat ourselves up constantly if we are the ones grieving.
It’s okay to be okay, sometimes
I love it that today so many people reconfirm that it’s okay not to be okay. It’s an important message. But grieving for a loved one is a long, complex process, in which not-okay can feel like the default setting and any morsel of joy or happiness, or just silly laughter, turns you into a ball of guilt. That’s what I felt a lot after my father died. I had no role model for how to grieve in my mid-to-late 20s, and just the wish to have a night out with the girls without constantly thinking of being a half-orphan now made me feel guilty. If I did it and had fun, it got even worse. It took me a long time—months, actually—to understand that what I was doing was the right thing, that I had a life beyond grief and that I would let my father down if I didn’t seize it.
It doesn’t go away, but it changes
When a loved one dies, the pain is so intense that we may wonder if we can stand it, and how long it’ll be that
The pain changes, but so do you
Many years ago, I read a love story—“Leon and Louise” by Alex Campus—and I found this quote, which I come back to often, so let me share a shorter version of it here:
I have a pretty good life. (…) You’re just one of the many gaps in my existence. (…) You get used to your gaps and learn to live with them. They’re a part of you and you wouldn’t want to be without them. (…) So your gaps gradually become characteristic traits and fill themselves with themselves, so to speak. I’m still completely full of you and my longing for you—or just my knowledge of you.Why? No idea. It’s something you get used to, that’s all.
I love the laconic sound of
I’m not sure if that’s helpful, and I realize this is not like my usual blog posts, but I felt like writing it, so I may as well share it. If you want to continue this conversation, I am here to talk.