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“Many hands lift, with ease, the spirit of the fallen souls that travel a difficult journey in cloaked emotions. Fortunate are we that discover the hands reaching to us to bring us back into the light.”

Unknown

What Is Grief?

 

I never knew what grief was until I experienced it first-hand.  My partner of almost 36 years was diagnosed with neuroendocrine carcinoma and died three weeks later on March 1, 2020.  Shortly after her death, I couldn’t get a grip and knew I wasn’t coping, so I sought out help at Heartlinks Grief Center.  At the suggestion of my Heartlinks grief counselor, I read a book by Megan Devine entitled It’s OK That You’re Not OK.  What a powerful literary work by a lady who is both a therapist and a widow who witnessed the accidental drowning of her male partner! 

I was so moved by the genuineness and honesty of her book that I have read it four times.  It is too seldom that we have the opportunity to read something by one who actually “gets it.”  With each reading I have learned something that I had glossed over the time before.  Within the chapters of her book, she includes writing ideas that were actual prompts from her grief writing class.  One that resonated especially loudly with me was “Give grief a voice.” 

I borrowed her idea and ran with it.  I personified Grief and wrote a letter from him/her to me or to any other fellow griever.   In it, Grief is a ‘being’ and tells the griever what to expect along their grief path.   At the time that I wrote it, I was lost and broken, crying all the time, which was totally foreign to me.  Now I am stronger, can advocate for myself, and am building a new life a little at a time.  I still cry occasionally and will always grieve for my soulmate partner, but I have amassed valuable coping skills I can use when I am in a difficult emotional situation.

                                                                                                ~ Janie

 

Hello,  

I am your new companion, Grief.  We have never really met before, so you aren’t familiar with me.  Oh, sure, you have experienced the camaraderie of my cohorts, Sadness and Sorrow, but you don’t yet know what I am capable of, how all-consuming I can be.  At first, you won’t know whether to ignore me, embrace me, despise me, fear me, or try to understand me. 

But I have many faces.  I will teach you the meaning of loss and loneliness, of guilt and regret.  Since you are new at this, you will sometimes misinterpret my purpose.  When I drag you down the proverbial rabbit hole to the depths of despair, you will think that there is no way out except to take the most drastic measures.  Sometimes, you would do anything to relieve the pain your heart is experiencing, and you consider alternatives that are irreversible. 

You will release cascades of tears until you believe there can’t possibly be any reserves left.  Sobs will escape your throat without your approval.  These responses are totally foreign to you, and you won’t know how to handle them.  There will be gut punches when you least expect them.  Breathing techniques will sometimes help, but not always.  There will be times that you will have no choice but to let me be, to cry until there are no more tears, to sob until your throat and head are pounding, and to allow the painful memories to surface. 

In time, you will learn to live beside me, to carry me with you.  You can’t fix me or get rid of me, because I refuse to be taken lightly.  I am an unwelcome visitor, one that only a few people will even be willing to hear you talk about because it makes them so uncomfortable.  I am like a burr under their saddle, so to speak.  The ones who do “get it” will understand and acknowledge me when I am at my peak, and they will bear witness to the pain I am causing you.  Keep them close to you.

I am the proof that you did, indeed, love your person.  I am the longing for the love you once shared, pining for their physical presence.  Your heart will sometimes feel as though it will actually break, and you may think you will never be able to function or find significance in living again.  I will always be with you because they are so deeply engrained in your being.  You will never “get over” me, but in time, it will become easier to live “with” me.  The memories of your life together will become more comforting than painful.  The times you are distraught will become fewer, and you will eventually find purpose again in life.  And so, I promise to be as gentle with you as I possibly can.

Sincerely,

Your Grief

 

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