March 16, 2014

What You Need to Know About Grief

crow 1Photo Credit: Jimmy Brown via Flickr CC

Like a bird swooping, soaring, or coming to rest on your shoulder, grief comes and goes and changes its form. Grief can feel like a big black crow; its dark weight moving with you through the day. It can feel like it knows no bounds, like an eagle soaring and dipping. Yet at other times it can feel almost playful and light, like a sparrow or a Willie Wagtail, allowing you to reminisce with happiness and laughter.

You can never be sure which bird will visit, when, or for how long. One thing is for sure though…when you lose someone or something you love, that window to grief is always open. I don’t mean to sound morbid, or even to communicate that grief ‘traps’ you in some way, but grief is always there, it becomes a new partner in your life’s journey.

If you have experienced loss, you will know how horrible it is to hear that “time heals,” or that you can find a way to “move on.” It is true that we never want grief to ‘paralyse’ us and to leave us unable to continue living our lives, however, we also don’t want to forget. We don’t want to live as if nothing significant has happened to us.

The truth is that grief changes us. Grief cracks open the soul and the mind in a way we never knew possible.

We come to see how painful life can be. We touch that place where experiences are raw, unrefined, unconfined, and unknown. We can literally lose our breath when confronted by the depth of grief and the magnitude of our loss.

We also come to see with greater clarity what it means to ‘live.’ Grief cuts through and strips away all that is superfluous; we begin to see what matter, what truly matters. Interestingly, it is not always what we expect, nor is it always a reflection of how we are living our lives.

There is an opportunity within grief. That opportunity is to realign our lives; to realign our thoughts and actions until they reflect our new-found, and definitely hard-won, understanding and knowledge.

I wrote this post today because grief is real for most of us. It certainly is for me at the moment. Grief has surfaced again in my life…the black crow is circling...

In a few days it will be 5 years since I received a call, just after 9pm, to say my Dad had suddenly passed away… Not easy. It has also almost been 5 months since my Nan passed away, and her passing has left me somewhat traumatised. Not only have I lost someone I loved and admired immensely, but her suffering in the end stages of her life was highly distressing.

Losing my Nan, who was my Dad’s mum, has also compounded my grief for my Dad. I feel a sad intensity to losing two important people in my life. I hadn’t realised how much my Nan kept the memory of my Dad alive, until she is now no longer here to reminisce with. 

Just like me, I know so many of you are facing your own grief. The thing is, sometimes we need a little guidance and reassurance along the way. Mostly we just need to be reassured that we will be okay and that we will get through. But we also want to be reassured that we are ‘allowed’ to grieve, and allowed to grieve in the way we do. We also want to know that there is no ‘acceptable’ limit to when our grief should be finalised.

If you are experiencing grief at the moment, my message is simple: respect this deep process. Your soul, mind and body are going through a profound process. You are consolidating your new experiences, feelings, thoughts and insights.

Don’t ‘judge’ your experience as ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ Don’t judge your experience and determine if it is ‘taking too long’ or maybe ‘not long enough.’ Take care of yourself. Do what is right for you.

Also be honest…if grief is paralysing you, begin finding people and techniques that will allow you to find your way back to what it means to live, but to live alongside your grief.

As you move through your week, know that you are not alone in your grief. Know that grief is unpredictable, and whatever you are experiencing is where you are meant to be for now. Know that there will be days when the black crow and the eagle show you the depths of the darkness, but also days when the sparrow and the Willie Wagtail will also come to play. Enjoy those moments of respite, of hope. Relax…enjoy the moment and cherish the joy of your memories and experiences.


“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 contribution, and of unspeakable love.”~ Washington Irving ~

Xxx Jess xxx

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