Updated: May 5
Grief. There are several assumptions or 'myths' about grief after facing a loss. For many of us, grief is something new— uncharted territory. How do we face something we do not know, this unfamiliar face?
Firstly, one thing about grief is that it sticks with you for the rest of your life... By definition, grief is intense sorrow, especially caused by someone's death. Although this is the basic definition, grief is so much more than that. Grief is multifaceted, enclosed within depths of constantly adapting layers: sadness, memories, fear... In fact, it means something different to everyone. I like to think of my grief as a person: it is the easiest way for me to understand it. This companion accompanies me throughout my life, sometimes visiting, leaving, staying over, being annoying, interrupting, reminiscing... It is a 'person': unpredictable and complex, consisting of a plethora of emotions that vary in potency. That's one myth, the assumption that you will 'get over it'. A loved one passing away is something that you will never just 'get over'. It may become easier to deal with or less frequent over time, but it is still there because you loved and you lost. As they all say: "grief is the price we pay for love" (as much as it is a bloody dreadful price). I think that it is important to note that you should not feel ashamed about your grief. It does not matter whether it had been 5 or 20 years- that mark will still be left on your heart and that is perfectly normal.
Another common misconception is that grief happens in orderly stages, with particular junctures. In fact, you may have seen several beautifully curved circles and pretty sloping diagrams telling you what will happen over the course of your grief, and my advice is to not take it as gospel. Grief is different for everyone. You may find someone who has gone through the gradual steps on the Kubler-Ross cycle in succession, but that is not true for a lot of people. You may go back and forth, stay on one stage for a while, not experience one of the stages, or keep experiencing them throughout your life. Grief- to put it simply- is a multitude of emotions and stages that come and go. Take these diagrams as an understanding of what those emotions or stages might be, but it can be frustrating to use it like a calendar or a routine process because life is not like that, and so is grief. It is by no means linear.
That brings me to the next one. You do not need to be (as what I am sure everyone has heard... well 99% sure) STRONG. Excuse me, but what does that even mean? You are allowed to feel the way you want to as long as you are not harming yourself or others, actually, it can be healthy to go through the emotions as they come. Crying is not a weakness. Undoubtedly, there is nothing wrong with being down or crying (which I have done on several occasions, especially after several viewings of Up... let's not even go there) or you may not feel like crying at all. Allow yourself to be yourself, rather than what several people's opinion of 'strong' is. There is more than just one way to grieve, just like there is more than one type of haircut, however, personally, I would never recommend a bob above the neck (which I sadly have experience with) which we all know leads to looking like you know who (cough... Lord Farquaad... anyone?).
Finally, 'moving on' with your life does not mean that you are forgetting about your loved one. As time passes, things will eventually become more 'normal' again, or rather, you will find your 'new normal'. There were points when I felt rather guilty about not crying as much or not thinking about my loss every day: I thought I was being disrespectful in some way towards my Dad, but it is completely normal. Think about it this way: take someone you know and love (such as a close friend). You do not have them on your mind 24/7. You may think about them at some point of the day but if you do not, do you feel bad about it? I realised this after some time had passed. That period of mourning is so intense and saturated that it makes you feel odd not to be experiencing that anymore once it passes. I used to think about my dad almost all the time, having the whole summer (when he passed) replaying in my head constantly and I felt sad all the time. But (with time) that transforms. Of course, I feel sad at times and I do think about him, but just because you went back to work, or focus on studying or go out with your friends or laugh hysterically with them, it does not mean that you are forgetting them. It means that you are just living your life.
I hope that this blog post was helpful! I have left a link below of some summarised short points from Care Dimensions which you can use as affirmations if you need to. Feel free to print it out and stick it on your wall if you need some support. Also, as always, there is a page on my blog dedicated to links and resources, so feel free to check that out.
As always, thank you for your support. I want to just leave you today with this beautiful poem, a reminder of hope amidst the darkness.
The Power of Hope Today
Today’s hope is a flickering candle that dwells in a snow-dusted window, circulating the prayers of Christmas mornings. Today’s hope is the crisp daffodil in colourless photos, containing the soul of a small child, who only wishes and knows of peace and love. Today’s hope is the sparkling eyes that truly believe in achieving anything to reach unity. Today’s hope is the palm to palm connection bracing each other for the climb neither expected, but couldn’t abandon. Today’s hope is peering beyond the lingering barrier, but still recognizing the diversity in ourselves. Today’s hope has been dimmed and tossed recklessly, but still generously stays with us, for we cannot help but come back like wide-eyed children to candy. We are said to be weak to rely on such strength, but we are only believers. That spark That gives science a baffled case And oceans an infinite plane, is the eagle that dips and soars and fights, which stands for the hope of today.