What does grief mean to you? I always thought of grief as this horrible experience where a person wouldn’t be functional, they would be in a constant state of tears and complete sadness. It might be that, and I’m sure for many, that would be an accurate description.

What I have learned from my experience is that grief can likely have many different faces. My grief has looked a bit different. It’s been much different than I had ever thought. Perhaps that is why when I was first told I was grieving and that my feelings were not only ok, but to be expected, I was surprised. You mean this is grief? I have reason to grieve? Now it makes sense. Grief for me has been like a roller coaster. Some days I am fine, “normal”, happy. And others I am constantly on the verge of tears and can hardly form a proper sentence. My memory is challenged, my brain is foggy and I often feel like I can’t think. I feel hurt and the loss can feel paralyzing. Questions about “why” swirl through my mind and although I know deep down there is no answer to that question, I can’t convince my psyche to turn it off. I wonder what I did to deserve this, what I did wrong, and what I could have done differently to change the outcome. All questions that I also know deep down, are crazy making and unanswerable. This is not my fault and I didn’t cause it, but my grief, when it hits in full force, doesn’t think in terms of reality. My grief is based purely on emotion and feels my sadness and loss deeply.

I am grateful to be able to recognize that I must feel these feelings entirely, purely and intensely through every wave of pain that comes. That’s how I will get through this. There is no easy way out. To escape the difficult emotions of this turmoil, I will only be numbing the pain or causing this process to last longer and linger for life. I choose to dive right in so that I can feel it honestly, learn from it and grow from this experience. I can honor what was and cherish the new life that I will appreciate and experience fully. This grief will pass and every moment that I allow it to sit with me, I will feel it, and then let it move past me as I savor the new feelings of peace that come my way.

My experience with grief has taught me that there must be many ways we all grieve. It doesn’t have an exact formula, or an exact definition. For some it may be a season of complete debilitation, for others it may come in waves. However your grief looks, know that it’s ok. It will pass and it will change daily. Be grateful for the learning and growth that will come because you are allowing yourself to feel.  Be proud that you are able to.

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