Here’s The Thing About Grief
Here’s the thing about grief. It feels different every day.
You wonder when you lay your head down to sleep which world you’ll wake up in. On your new daily barometer, will your grief be mild or strong?
Will you remember they’re no longer here as soon as you wake up? Or will you spend a few moments feeling whole?
Will you wake up with tears on your pillow? Or will you open your eyes and smile at the sound of birds singing outside?
Grief Is Different Every Day:
Every day is just another page in this chapter called grief.
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.” – Washington Irving
Lately I’ve taken to spreading out a large and soft throw blanket on top of my bed quilt. On top of that I add my favorite soft blanket.
When I go to bed, instead of sleeping on the sheets, I lie down on the soft throw. Then I cover myself with the soft blanket.
It’s like a comfort sandwich.
Every time I hear of someone’s loss, I always say: Be sure to be good to yourself right now.
I’m finally remembering to take my own advice.
Last night before I fell asleep, I uselessly ruminated over whether I had given Abi enough physical love. I loved her so very much, but did I stop and show and tell her enough?
Surely I did???
But what if I didn’t?
I’m busy. I am online. Why didn’t I shut down the computer more?
Why didn’t I set aside certain hours when I would just shower her with attention till she grew tired of me?
I don’t know why, but these things I torture myself with. Is this part of grief, that you mentally and emotionally pound yourself with the only weapon you have available?
Which is regret.
“Grief is a normal and natural response to loss. It is originally an unlearned feeling process. Keeping grief inside increases your pain.” – Anne Grant
This got stuck in my mind and repeated itself over and over like a broken record.
And the worst thing about it is, you will never know. And you could not change it if you did.
Those hours in time are irretrievable. Locked in a box never to be allowed to see the light of day again. Because now they’re just memories.
Grief is a sort of madness. It leads you places you thought you’d never go. It twists your mind until you can’t think straight. It threatens to strip you of your sanity.
Loss Is The Price We Pay For Love:
We try to hold off loss. But loss is the price we pay for love. And once you open yourself to love, you can’t outrun loss.
It eventually catches up to you, holds you still, and makes you remember that you are not in control. Just in case you thought you were.
Thank goodness, like the trees, we can bend in the wind. Or we’d be a mound of brittle broken branches scattered on the ground.
We can bend, which means that we can survive in circumstances of enormous pain and suffering.
“Grief changes shape, but it never ends.” – Keanu Reeves
After accepting the loss, naturally grief sets in.
There’s no outrunning grief.
You are forced to sit beside loss and feel the pain. All over you. Inside of you. In front of you and behind you.
We cannot send it away. It has a will of its own. And we are just along for the ride.
Wherever it chooses to take us, we must go.
“So it’s true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love.” ― E.A. Bucchianeri
The duration of grief is like being emerged in water. Then someone wrings us out like a dish towel. Twists us so tight we think we’ll surely snap in two.
In the Lakota/Sioux tradition, a person who is grieving is considered most wakan, most holy. There’s a sense that when someone is struck by the sudden lightning of loss, he or she stands on the threshold of the spirit world.
I just want to wake up and find out it was a nightmare. But the nightmare is loss and all its sharp edges.
This was another insightful post regarding grieving. I wanted to add something here about guilt. Since Ab’s only been gone about a month, to me it seems like pretty much any emotional reaction you have is a normal one, including guilt. You had an immense bond with her that grew out of a very stressful time in your lives, so, to me, it seems normal for you to be swamped with a lot of questions over whether you did all you could for her since she gave so much to you. Over time, the level of guilt probably will diminish and your worries and doubts will be replaced by memories which show special times you shared. Frankly, it seems to me that the only way you can get to the point where you don’t have such intense feelings of guilt is by going ahead and feeling them when they do occur. But when you find yourself pretty swamped by the guilt feelings, if you can think of it, that’s the time to change something — get up out of your chair, go get a drink of water, go look out the window, in order to get a bit of a breather.
Just a note — Kubler-Ross’s book “On Death and Dying” first presented the concept of The Five Stages of Grief. But that book specifically applied the concept to people dying of terminal illnesses, not to the living people who were grieving the loss of loved ones. Kubler-Ross did write another book, “On Grief and Grieving” in which she and her co-author apply the stages to those in mourning.
Thanks for the distinction. I have not read them.
You maybe able to look this up online,The 5 Stages of Grief by Elizabeth Kubler Ross,it explains the 5 Stages of the grieving process and how for our well being they need to be experienced and how refusing to do so can affect us both mentally and physically and I can attest to that.
We were required to read itfor my nurses aide course.
Be good to your self!
This morning I added a link to a video one of you sent me on what grief does to a brain and body. It’s at the bottom of this post now. I greatly admire Elizabeth Kubler Ross’s work. Such a wise woman. Every time I see her name I think of grief and the processing of grief.
I love reading the words you write. And I cherish the thoughts and memories your words bring into the light. As I was sorting through boxes of pictures (in an effort to put them in some sort of order), I came upon “baby” pictures of my Kate (my beloved cat) and of Charlie (my beloved terrier). They are no longer with me and have been gone for several years but the grief was still there hidden away. I sat and looked at those pictures and just sobbed until there were no tears left. Just to hold them, smell them, look into those trusting loving eyes again …… But what wonderful memories I have of them. I was so blessed to have them in my life.
Take care of yourself. And I already know that you will take care of little Charlie. Glad that you had a good outing with your daughter; it is good to get out in the world at times.
You still had grieving to do, it sounds like. Glad you came across the boxes and it allowed your feelings to come out. I sometimes think being allowed to cry is in itself a gift. It is a lessening of what we can no longer hold in.
Sorry about typo on Abi’s name. Arthritis in fingers makes me miss Keys at times. Need to proofread. Please excuse my error.
No worries. I don’t know if you see this on your end. But on my end there is an EDIT button at the bottom of each comment that you can click and fix typos, etc. I just figured that out the other day myself.
Brenda you have such a beautiful soul. I have to believe that Ani knew she was loved and treasured. She ruled her little kingdom like the Queen Bee she was. I think if you had scheduled time for love that just would not have been normal or practical. Your time on the computer is also research for your blog and one of the ways that you can afford vet care and food and shelter for your beloveds. Abi knows she was loved and her qualified life was excellent. Just having you to love and care for her was like winning the lottery. So many dogs are merely chained in yards and left like lawn ornaments. Abi was always loved, fed and allowed to rule the roost. She was a fiesta little lady with the heart of a lioness. Take time now comforting yourself in your blanket sand which, enjoying your iced coffees and any other ways that come to you. Pope Francis has said he believes animals will be with us in heaven. If that’s not true not sure I want to go. But I choose to think it is true. Abi will be at the front of the line to greet you one day and you know she’ll be telling everyone that the line begins behind her ! I do love to be pushed around by my 3 cats and my Boxer/ Labrador who was a stray who found me in my yard gardening 15 years ago. I know my time with my Dolly Dog grows shorter but I try to just spoil her a bit each day and take her for rides to get ice cream. Spoil Charlie now and pour your love into your sweet boy. I hope your heart finds a bit more comfort in Charlie and your gardening. So glad you were able to visit with your grandson, Andrew, and your daughter. Grandchildren are the icing on the cake ! Love you Brenda. I save your blog to read before I go to bed. Your writing is my gift to me at the end of the day. Stay well.
And your comment today was a gift to me. Truly. Such beautiful words that lifted me. I especially like that Abi would be telling all the others that the line begins after her. So true of my Abi! They are such little characters.
You are working to make sense of what has been an extreme hardship for you Brenda and it is no small undertaking. I’m entirely sure you loved Abi with your whole heart and that’s the part that really matters.
All people in grief need that special friend, the one who can take what is worth keeping and with a breathe of kindness blow the rest away. You thrash, you crash, you stand on your feet in moments only to find yourself back as a heap on the floor. All people need this space to just “be” and because a wounded heart is exactly that – wounded.
It doesn’t matter the questions truly and it doesn’t matter who makes sense of them or who finds them incomprehensible. I would worry far more about the one who doesn’t question at these times then the one who does.
I assure you though, Abi is not sitting there today with a list that says, ”mom you did this wrong or that”. No no, they were never made that way to begin with and that’s only a tiny fraction of why they were so special.
Bless you …
Thank you. You made me feel better with your comforting words. It is so strange the things you do and think when you are grieving. I was feeling a bit odd for the feelings I’m telling you all about. I felt maybe I should have kept them to myself. They don’t make sense. I know they don’t. They just are what they are. So thank you for this. It really helps!
GRIEF HAS NO TIM LIMIT. I LOST
MY DAUGHTER ON SEPT. 9 th 1997, ALMOST 21 YRS. AGO. THERE ARE DAYS EVEN NOW THAT I AM OVERWHELMED BY THE LOSS. I CRY, AND FEEL PHYSICALLY ILL JUST LIKE THE DAY SHE WAS TAKEN FROM ME. SUDDENLY I WAS WITHOUT MY ONLY CHILD AT JUST 28 YRS. OLD.
I PRAY THAT YOU, AND SWEET CHARLIE CONTINUE TO MOVE FORWARD IN THE NEW PATH THAT LAYS AHEAD.
I CRY ALMOST EVERYDAY WHEN I LOOK AT MY CRICKET ( who now has congestive heart failure ) AND KNOW I COULD LOSE HER ANY DAY. WORRY OVER HER CONDITION KEEPS ME OVERWHELMED AND KEEPS ME FROM FULLY ENJOYING OUR TIME TOGETHER. I AM TRYING TO MOVE FORWARD MORE POSITIVELY, BUT THE IMPENDING GRIEF KNOCKS ME DOWN.
TAKE EACH DAY AS A GIFT, AND ENJOY YOUR BOY, BRUSH HIM, TALK TO HIM AND JUST LOVE HIM.
Oh no! I didn’t realize that Cricket’s illness was that severe. I’m here if you need me. You know that.
It is so true … grief has so many shades to it. Yes, you do need to talk of them Brenda and sometimes each minute detail must relive itself too. Questioning is a good thing not bad and sometimes that process helps lead us to new understandings too. Can be a good thing when used wisely.
I find reading some of the expressions like that of Dean Koontz helpful a bit because it tells you how many have known this kind of pain too. Some of them are so eloquently said. You know these people absolutely know this experience to have been able to produce such expression.
I find I can function most days, I go, I do, I shop, laugh at a funny comment even and generally continue all the chores of daily life. Then I may take a moment here, there, whenever. Sit by a lakeside, grab a coffee, take a country drive but when I do that feeling of wanting to just fall off the face of the earth will quickly flood over me. They are never truly far from our hearts those precious ones.
Max Lucado (author) commented that we are to remember in God’s perspective that saying goodbye is really not this at all, rather a wave only, that says, “ I will see you tomorrow”.
I did find reading this helped. Of course it does not stop the pain one iota but it can help when our perspective has become so narrow in our sorrow that we forget there really is a grand plan.
Afterall, he did make those beautiful creatures and only a sheer genius could have created those darlings to be as perfect as they truly are.
Our perspective does become so narrow in our sorrow. I seem to need to ask all these strange questions of myself. It’s a little like cleaning up after the tragedy I guess you might say. I just feel like it’s something I must do to move on. One of the phases of moving on.
This is so eloquent, Brenda.
I was just moving some stuff around and I uncovered some pillowcases sealed in a plastic bag. I had put them there after my parents visited me, already 13 years ago–I was afraid it might be the last time I saw them. I wanted to keep that smell of them. As it turned out, they lived another decade, and died within a couple of weeks of each other. I didn’t dare open the bag, for fear of losing the scent, when I might need it more later.
Makes perfect sense to me.
I agree w what you wrote. I tell myself while grieving “ grief is the price you pay for love”. No matter how deep and wide the grief, love is always, always bigger, wider, worth it.
Only way to avoid grief is to never love.
You’re right. And how empty a life would that be?
Hmmmm… my initial response to this is… why do you feel you deserve to be tortured? Because you are torturing yourself needlessly with those kind of thoughts. I say let those go… There’s absolutely no questions she had a wonderful home in every single way. Let those thoughts go, or be dragged…
I don’t know where this is coming from. I’ve always had guilt since I was a small child. It gets hold of me and I can’t shake it sometimes. I don’t think that I deserve to be tortured. I just think I feel the need to go over everything. Everything. In minute detail.
Grief! So hard to move on at times, but we try. I’m still grieving the loss of my brother and my beloved Charlie Kitty just weeks apart. Double blow that brought me to my knees. I’m better now, but there are days when I’m not and that’s OK. Hugs to you! Be good to yourself.
Grief cannot be shaken off. We are stuck with it. And I want to grieve Abi because she was my special little girl. Linda, I miss her SO much!
I think ruminating could be my middle name. I can be so good at that and second guessing and beating myself up. I cannot imagine that Abi did not know how much you loved her. You know how when you are gone and return home and dogs are so excited to see you and then they settle down and go about their business, happy that their people are nearby? I’m sure the times you were busy which is very normal, Abi was quite content just knowing you were there. Please don’t beat yourself up. Abi was so blessed.
She was always right next to me. Always. There is so much that happens when you grieve. They may be bizarre things. Not plausible. But still there regardless.
I understand Brenda. I’ve been there. Take care.
So beautifully written about grief, Brenda. I know it’s easy for any of us to say, “Don’t feel guilty”, because that’s not going to take the guilt away. It’s a process you have to go through yourself. My husband still feels guilt over certain things with our son, while I have let that go. Everyone is different. I love your idea of the “comfort sandwich”. I know for severe anxiety, there make weighted blankets. I have never tried one myself (they’re expensive), but a friend’s daughter had one when she was in a mental health facility and said it really calmed her down. That’s almost what your comfort sandwich blanket reminds me of. Yes, you do whatever you need to do to take care of yourself, absolutely. Have you seen your daughter and Andrew? I was thinking a visit with them might cheer you up a bit and be good for your soul.
Hey Melanie, I just got back from lunch with my daughter. It was good to get out. I often think of you, knowing you lost a son. I sometimes wonder how you’re feeling and if the grieving is still there? I guess it’s always there.
Abi would say:
” Don’t be sad. Thanks for everything. I had a wonderful time.”
She knows she was loved and she loved you for it.
Hug Charlie for me.
I will give Charlie that hug from you. I think all these thoughts are just part of the grief process.
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