It wasn’t until my recent experience with the death of my late partner, that I really realized the true darkness and pervasiveness of grief. It was if a light had been extinguished, the raw fear of realising that your life, complete with all the hopes and dreams you had together, was over. The support that I had so often taken for granted, gone in the blink of an eye. It has been fifteen months since his death, and I marvel at how resilient our daughter and I have been, faced with the lack of his physical presence in our life. It’s no time at all really, not in the grand scheme of things, but it sometimes feels that he has been gone forever. We have overcome all the major milestones for the first time and the rawness of our loss is fading.
There isn’t a one size fits all aspect to grief. In fact, it is quite a selfish emotion, we grieve for the loss of something or someone in our life, be it a person, a pet or a lifestyle. As such it is something that can overwhelm and, if we let it, consume us. That said, it is perfectly normal to grieve, and there isn’t a time limit, however, don’t let it be the sole focus of your life. Life comes at us pretty fast nowadays and change is something the majority of people shy away from. No-one chooses to wallow in grief, it really isn’t healthy, BUT it is an essential part of the process of momentous change after a loss.
I did a lot of research on grief and the grieving process after his death, especially trying to find a way to help our daughter live with her loss. Children deal with loss completely differently to us adults, my daughter needed to be with friends, to do normal things, not be whispered around or treated differently. Which was just as well because I nearly fell apart! It is true that one really finds out who your real friends are when the chips are down, and I was blessed to be surrounded by many people who softened the blow of his passing.
There is a general consensus amongst psychologists that there are stages to the grieving process:
- Denial. We can’t or won’t accept the loss and what it means for our future.
- Anger. With them for dying. With others for not saving them. With ourselves or a higher power.
- Bargaining. “Don’t let them die, please God, if you let them live I’ll do X.” Or in the event of their death ”if I do this God, will you bring them back to me?”
- Depression. This is the one that, if you allow it to take hold, will take you down with it. You dwell on the unfairness of it all, the lack of their presence in your life and the “what ifs” and “if only’s”. To be depressed as a result of the situation is a normal reaction to a loss and it is a necessary emotion to be able to heal and move on. To allow the depression to take hold of you is another thing altogether.
- Acceptance. The acceptance of your new reality.
There is no defined way that we will experience these emotions, indeed some of us won’t face all of them, although I did, to a lesser or greater degree. Ultimately the final stage is the one that will allow us to move forward in our new altered reality, because, like it or not, we can’t turn back the clock.
I have found that mindfulness, self-acceptance and meditation have given my daughter and I the strength we needed to get through the darkest of days and emerge blinking into this new life we have found ourselves in. He would be so proud of us and how well we have coped with his passing.
So we’ll keep on keeping on knowing that as each day passes the pain will slowly get easier to bear. I liked a quote I once saw on Pinterest, it said; Grief is like a stormy sea, the waves crash over you incessantly, gradually the storm, and the waves will subside and where once there were huge engulfing waves, there remain just tiny ripples and you can edge forward into your altered future.
With love and light,
Liane Richardson is a mother to four amazing children and a perpetual optimist bobbing around in the Sea Of Life. Her mission in life is to give others a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on. She is a strong believer in laughter being the best medicine (and chocolate!). What we think, we attract, so stay positive. Receive more goodness from Liane on her website: Liane Richardson