A Conversation with Grief

Me: Hello Grief. Why are you inside of me today?

Grief: There are several of us lurking around. Which one are you referring to?

M: I have no idea because, quite frankly, I didn’t know there was more than one of you. What I do know is the ache I feel hurts, like a dull physical hurt inside my chest. Sometimes you are a dark cloud floating inside my body. Why don’t we cut to the chase and you tell me which grief you are and get it over with? This way I can figure out how to feel better.

G: First of all, there is no guarantee you will feel better by putting a label on it. Labels only tell us the name of something. They aren’t informationally dense. Grief can be complicated. In my family, the family of Grief, there are several variants of us that can lay on top of one another and sometimes merge together and then pull apart. Grief isn’t a one-size-fits-all. Grief is fluid. It can change how you feel by the minute, hour, day, weeks, month. It can keep you on your emotional toes. It can lay dormant for long periods of time. To learn about us you must be ready to acknowledge, understand, and work with whatever version of me is inside you at any given moment. Are you ready for this? Or do you need some time to think about it?

M: I’m not sure. I feel scared about this process. As much as I want to get better, I am also used to you being here. What will it feel like for me to learn about the different kinds of grief? Will they always be with me? Will I cry? Will I learn to cope? Will my heart heal? Will I always hurt?

G: You have asked some good questions. Some of us have been with you for a long time. Years. At least one has been come and gone. You did good with that one. Because of what is happening in your life you will have some of us around for a while.

M: That seems a bit unfair to hang around for long periods of time. I feel like I would be happier if you weren’t here at all. Sometimes you are like a pebble in my shoe that won’t come out. Sometimes you are like an eyelash trapped in my eye forbidding me to see clearly. Sometimes, though not often, you are a boulder that drops on top of me squeezing the breath out of me. When will you finally leave?

G: It’s so cliché but I’ll say it anyway life isn’t fair. Life is life with solvable and unsolvable problems. Know this I do not like being inside of you. I’m necessary. The Grief Family exists to help humans cope with losses – death, disability, trauma, tragedy, major life shifts. When we are rejected, we only come back later and sometimes with a vengeance. Others can help but only you can do the work of resolving feelings of grief. Allowing yourself to be open to the emotions of us is a healthy pathway for you.

M: Will you be gentle with me as you teach me which ones you are?

G: I will try. My gentle may produce some of the greatest pain you have ever felt and you will grow more than you can imagine. It will be worth it for you if you are willing to put in the work . Let’s ease in with the one you have resolved. Let’s get started.