Grief never ends…But it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…It is the price of love.
In life we encounter many losses: identity; wealth; health; relationships and death, being the most obvious. Life continues, we grieve, cry and pick ourselves up.
But do we really get over loss?
Does grief ever end?
After the loss of my mother in 2005, I found myself in a new low place. I was going to write dark but dark does not fully describe how I felt. If anything everything seemed too loud, without any sound. The lights were on too brightly in the darkness. Nothing made sense, not as if it had made sense before but it made even less sense. I felt as if I was unraveling, losing a self I didn’t really know at all.
Whilst caring for Mum in the last months of her illness, I kept a journal, logging in her medication, her symptoms and her levels of understanding and movement. She had an aggressive brain tumor which had made her immobile and bed ridden. She was lucid most of the time, the medication was keeping the brain swelling and pain at bay. But my mum was not fully there. She was drifting in and out of daily consciousness, talking about her deceased loved ones as if they were alive, or telling me of her travels to distant lands whilst she slept.
I found this both heartbreaking and intriguing. Listening to her stories, writing them down gave me comfort in that she was not too distressed and rather enjoying the freedom of her soul wanderings.
But this was my beloved mother who was lying there helpless, dependent on me for her every care. This was my mum who would soon be leaving to go home to her Virgin Mary and Jesus whom she loved. I journalled my pain, writing to God imploring for understanding and courage to stay strong. I wrote back as if from God and this gave me comfort and a feeling that I wasn’t alone. Also reassurance that mum would be safe and loved in his arms.
When mum died I could not find any solace in journalling my feelings. Instead I wrote about grief, depression and even having a go at a short story about the after life and a piece on how to help children deal with grief. I needed to become the observer as being the griever was too painful and too personal. I had to separate myself from the reality so I could process the pain safely.
I would later write letters to my mum, asking if she was OK. Again I would write a reply as if from her, in Greek as her written English was not great. Sometimes it made me feel better, sometimes I would cry, sometimes I would scream with anger at the futility of this process. But the most part I felt calm at the end. I was learning a new way of communicating with her. As with learning anything new, especially if we do not want to change our old ways of doing things, we find it hard and want to revert to the old way. But I could not do that. She was gone. I could not ring her or sit face to face with her and talk to her, watching her beautiful smile light up her face.
A couple of years after her passing I started a blog for my mum called Committed to love – a journey through grief I wanted to reach out to her in the only way I knew, by writing. But also wanted to share my pain with others, for my own validation but also to help others who are grieving.
Grief does not end, there is no destination, no end point where you get off and arrive. Grief is a passage, it changes, it changes you. With each loss in your life, it makes a mark in your psyche and can affect your health if not fully accepted as a healer.
Emotions are our guides to how we are thinking. If we are thinking well, our emotions are in sync with our body. If we our thinking has unease, our emotions reflect this through our body. Grief is a normal part of loss. It is a natural reaction to loss. It brings up all the losses and demands you work with grief to release the trauma and heal.
I will be writing more about how not allowing the gift of grief to heal, is detrimental to health and wellbeing in my next post.