Grief doesn’t fit in a coffin shaped box. We tend to use the word ‘grief’ interchangeably with ‘bereavement’, but grief does not exclusively refer to the physical death of a person. Grief isn’t linear, it doesn’t pass through the five stages in an orderly manner.
To grieve is to have part of you frozen in a moment in time.
And no one talks about the insidious nature of grief, ever. How it sneaks up on you from behind, when you don’t even realise what you have lost, and sometimes you think you’ve moved on, but in the next moment it comes right back, leering in your face. And it hangs over you as an overcast cloud, with a light drizzle at times, but at others- a full body drenching mindstorm of emotions, ruminations and tears.
It systematically breaks your heart into a trillion pieces and chronically imposes on your brain, upon your peace. Grief isn’t some evil force that’s only there to haunt you in the darkest moments and give pain, grief reminds you of something scarier than ghosts – the truth about your life, what actually matters to you, what you really need. Perhaps how much you wanted love or attention, or it could be how intensely you care about someone, how much you’ve grown since you last checked.
“The pain was necessary to know the truth, but we don’t have to keep the pain alive to keep the truth alive.” – Mark Nepo
What is Grief? It could be:
The death of a friendship
Falling out of love
Losing your favourite childhood toy to the Salvation Army
Quitting your job
What you always wanted but never got
A person who died
A person who is still alive but is electively absent in your life
Giving up on your dreams
Loving someone who is toxic
The loss of a pet
Here’s a pro tip: Don’t let anyone tell you that any of those in the list above are more important than others. Every single person has their own barometers, their own tolerance for pain, sadness and loss. So it’s impossible. It’s impossible to compare or to put a clock on it and to tell a grieving person to snap out of it.
Loss continues, change is constant, the road ahead is full of potholes and twisting loops. People often get lost on that road. Is there a highway? The answer is maybe. But you don’t have to choose exactly which route, which vehicle, what ETA, right now. It’s not your fault that some losses are just too heavy, and it is not your fault for staying stuck in the loop a little longer.
If there’s one thing I can suggest, it would be to get to the epicentre of your grief.
Yes, you read it right, if you want to genuinely address the grief, you have to go through the classic hero’s journey. Like in all the monomyths, you have to dive into the abyss. Only there will you find the panacea to complexities of life, answers to thousands of questions ratting around in your skull. More than answers, it’s the process of diving in that will help you understand your grief in a language that only you can fathom.
And you don’t have to do it alone. Your friends, family, community, LAGOM is here for you.