Ask Annah: Does Grief Last Forever?

Annah ElizabethAsk Annah, Loss, Grief, and Healing, Mental Health, ParentingLeave a Comment

Dearest Neighbor,

First, I’m sorry for your loss and your heartache. Please know that, though it might sometimes feel like you are all alone, you have a world of support to help you in your grief and beyond.

Will your grief last forever?

It doesn’t have to, Journeyer, but it all depends on you.

In the 5 Steps of Healing, your first step is to choose grief, for without grief there would be no need for healing. Yes, it’s true that rarely do we choose our loss and often times our grief reactions are spontaneous and not within our control, either.

It is important, however, to acknowledge all of those elements that have gone missing from your life, to allow yourself to experience whatever host of emotions is a part of your personal sorrow.

Cry until it seems as if you have no tears left. Sleep. Rage at the heavens, the universe, the injustice of it all; tear up phone books or smash plates (in a safe place), kick the ground, or scream to the stars until your voice is hoarse. Sob. Sit in silence. Serve others. Beg for answers to your questions. [Insert your whatever.]

Rinse and repeat.

As a holiday healing event, our good friends over at the Scared Sideless organization have an OrnaMental Release event where ornaments are smashed and the shattered pieces are poured into a new ornament ball as a way of creating something beautiful from the broken.

Like Rome, your grief won’t be built in a day.

Often it is an unraveling of sorts as you discover each new piece that isn’t there…the holidays…the dreams for the future…expectations and wishes and dreams that one day you realize will or may never materialize the way you had once envisioned…

As these pieces reveal themselves, it may feel like your grief is eternal.

All around us the bereaved and well-intentioned support groups use words like “Life is never the same,” “forever grief,” “a pain that will always be with you,” [insert your whatever.]

What I can tell you for sure is that it doesn’t have to be that way, Neighbor. At this writing, my Gavin has been deceased for twenty-seven-plus years.

I can honestly stand before you and say that I no longer grieve him. I celebrate all that he is and everything I have with him.

Is his physical death forever? Yes. Will I ever see his first steps, first smile, or a walk down the graduation or matrimonial aisle? No. Will I ever be able to console him in his own sadness? Not.

And yet, what I have with him is so much greater and stronger than any of those things, for the bonds we share are eternal and unconditional.

Even though he was born and died before my other three children made their appearance onto this earth, they, too, have established a relationship with him. We have created stories and memories that include him.

He is behind everything I do, Journeyer. He is the breath in my service to you and to all the worlds of hurt I am privileged to bear witness to. He is my inspiration and the fuel that drives my passion.

Nothing, not even death can strip away the experiences of your life and the beautiful memories you made.

This is true for every type of loss you face, Journeyer. Pet loss. Disease. Disaster. Divorce. Financial. ALL the losses, Journeyer, are a blend of the beautiful and the broken.

In the midst of your shattered spaces you will experience moments of joy and peace, which sometimes bring their own sense of guilt, worry, or concern. Know that this, too, is okay, Journeyer. It’s okay for you to not be okay.

One of the most important things to remember is that your loss is not okay; whatever has brought you such sadness is not okay, but YOU can be okay in the face of your adversity.

I know it, Neighbor. I believe it with all my might.

I invite you to believe in the miracle of hope and promise, too.

Healing, like Rome and Grief, won’t be built in a day.

When you feel the times are right, you can choose healing by giving your grief and conflict questions attention, to seek the answers and strategies that work for you and you can choose to hold on to those fleeting moments that bring a smile to your face, warmth to your heart, or peace to your soul.

Healing doesn’t mean that what happened to you is okay; it doesn’t change or deny it.

Healing simply means that you no longer carry the burdens of pain, for they have been re-purposed into something else that has far greater meaning and a connection that transcends suffering.

You’ve got this, Neighbor. I believe. Will you?

Yours in hope, healing, and happiness,

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