Grief is interesting. It’s like an acquaintance that you really don’t want to be friends with but it keeps in touch anyway. For those of us who have experienced grief we simply wish it would go away, permanently. But, unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
At first, grief shows up, overwhelms you and leaves you devastated. Later the relationship evolves despite your best efforts to shake it. Grief may not always be present but it will show up at odd times as a painful reminder. It may not stay long, but long enough to cause a tear or two (or more). Sometimes its presence is brought on by the words in a song, or when glancing at a picture, or even when you’re just minding your own business, it brings back a memory from out of nowhere.
I’ve come to understand the importance of grief when dealing with a loss. It is a necessary evil. Sadly grief provides the vehicle to move on. However, moving on is not going back to where we really want to be – with that loved one or in that relationship, or whatever it is we’re mourning the loss of.
Over the years I’ve developed a pretty contentious relationship with grief. Just when I think it’s no longer in the picture…BAM! Grief shows right back up in my life - a most unwelcome intrusion. Sadly, any length of time grief visits is too long particularly since it has the ability to snatch you back to a time when you struggled with a broken heart, anger, or disappointment.
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about my mother, who died sixteen years ago. To be honest, I think about her every day, but lately I’ve thought about her longer than the typical fleeting moments. I’m not sure why, but I feel a sense of grief creeping back in. This is frustrating, especially since I thought grief and I had long since parted ways. If there’s any good thing about my relationship with grief is that I don’t have to be polite and deal with this unwelcome intrusion. Just like dodging that co-worker who always wants to tell you an off-color joke, I’ve learned a few tricks of avoidance where grief is concerned.
Because my mother lived an abundant life filled with lots of love, friendships, and experiences, that’s how I choose to honor her and that’s how I combat grief. I remind myself to remember the feelings from the good times we spent together, not the pain of loss that separates us now.
As I see friends struggling with loss, know that grief only has the power you give it. Live, love, laugh, celebrate, pray, and yes, shed some tears when needed, but don’t let grief outstay its welcome.