I wanted to write something a little different for this blog as grief is such a personal journey. While it has been studied and written about extensively, everyone’s experience of it remains as unique to them as the circumstances surrounding the loss they are grieving, whether that is the loss of a relationship, a possession, something of themselves or a bereavement.
My most significant journey of grief began five years ago when a significantly close person was diagnosed with cancer. The experience which followed was a series of adjustments to their circumstances, grieving for them as more and more limitations were imposed on them by their declining health.
After the loss of those things or people that we grieve, time can take on a strange quality; things can feel as though they keep moving on while we might need to take time to just absorb and get our heads around what has happened and what is happening to us. It can feel like a rollercoaster, moments of feeling that things are alright, followed by times when we feel knocked sideways by the feelings we have. For some there may be an initial feeling of numbness as we deal with the shock of what has happened. It might also feel very difficult to make decisions; something significant has happened and it is important to give ourselves the chance to process this, there might not be much headspace for other things.
Our own feelings about grief may have a huge impact on how we allow ourselves to grieve. Some may feel that it is acceptable for others to see us in our grief, others may feel very uncomfortable with this. Do we give ourselves permission to grieve? For some people, the feelings that are associated with grief feel unacceptable and there may be a will to shut them down and not express them. This may result in these unprocessed feelings bubbling up in the future.
On a practical and emotional level, grief is the process of adjustment. Adjustment to life without the thing or person which has been lost and dealing with any questions or unresolved issues which might also arise. Many people find a way of remembering and honouring the person or thing that has been lost, with rituals, objects, photographs etc which are personal to them.
We grieve for things and people because they are important to us and their loss has an impact on us and our lives. Grief comes from a place of love and is not something to move on from. It is something we build our lives around. We do not have to forget those losses and live our lives as if they didn’t exist.
Everyone’s journey is different, but in talking about our experience of grief, we can feel less isolated by it and perhaps even more connected by it and attuned to it.