”Grief is never something you get over. You don’t wake up one morning and say, ‘I’ve conquered that; now I’m moving on.’ It’s something that walks beside you every day. And if you can learn how to manage it and honor the person that you miss, you can take something that is incredibly sad and have some form of positivity.”
The irony is, when you are in the throws of grief you may really struggle to find the beauty and the joy in life and it may be quite unlikely that you would stop and admire the beauty of a rainbow or the vastness of an ocean. Those who cannot relate to these images begin to worry, what’s wrong with me that I don’t have such a Zen perspective? The inability to derive joy from things that were once pleasurable can feel a lot like depression and it can be frightening.
Don’t worry you’re still not crazy. These are normal feelings. I know because I’ve experienced my own grief and I know because I’ve heard hundreds of other grievers talk about the same types of experiences. (If you’re worried that you are actually experiencing a psychological disorder like depression, anxiety, or PTSD.
You’ve probably heard people say, ‘the first year is the hardest’, this is sometimes true. Quite often, the second year is no picnic either, but at some point, things should get easier. The intense and unrelenting distress of acute grief will be replaced by less frequent moments of sadness, anger, and frustration. You will still have bad days, but you will know things are getting better when those days are outnumbered by ‘okay’ days.
This does not mean you are ‘getting over it’, moving on, or forgetting. An important part of healing is discovering the role your loved one will play in your life after their death. Of course at first, you hold on very tight, afraid if you let go your loved one will disappear completely. You hold on to items (not crazy), you leave rooms untouched (not crazy), you pay their cell phone bill so you can continue to hear their voice on their voicemail (not crazy). These things are not crazy and you may continue to do some of them forever, but some you will eventually let go of as your grip slowly loosens and you realize that nothing short of amnesia could make you really let go.
And slowly…slowly…the faded colors of life become more vibrant. The world unthaws and you start to find beauty peeking through in places you would never have expected it. Your season of grief has left you weary but stronger. You know you will never be the same and you begin to accept that you must integrate your loved one and your experiences and continue to live…a little bit wary, a little bit wise, and a little bit crazy.
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