What I learned about grief

By: Jen (USA)

4 years ago, I lost my husband. He died suddenly at a young age. I also lost both my parents. I’ve learned a few things about grief along the way and wanted to share in the hope that it may be of some help to others.

There’s that old saying that it is better to have loved and lost than to never having loved at all. That’s true. Grief is just the price of love, and that pain is worth the cost.

Less true is the saying that time heals all wounds. The scars remain. You are forever changed. It becomes part of who you are. While it’s hard to find positives in such pain, it does leave you a more compassionate and empathetic person. Don’t expect to be who you were before though.

People forget. Don’t judge them. While you are wondering how the world is still turning, they are continuing with their lives. We did the same before we knew!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help ever. When you do, people can be amazing when given the chance.

There is also no right way to deal with grief. It is different for everyone. If you want to talk about it, talk about it. If you don’t, then don’t. Do what works for you. That being said, see above in regard to asking for help. If you don’t let yourself feel and live the pain, then talking to someone really helps. Never feel like you’re in it by yourself. If you need medication, get medication. This is hard when you’re also expected to be a functioning human being. Make it as easy on yourself as you can.

People, unsolicited, will give you advice. Even if they have been through something similar, everyone’s situation is different. Know they mean well.

You’ll watch others who are going through something similar, maybe a few years apart from you, and see some seeming to move on quickly and others who are ‘stuck’. Never judge. What is right for one person won’t be right for another. Go at your own pace. Don’t rate yourself by the paces at which others have ‘seemed’ to progress. Be kind to yourself too.

Grief is also not a competition. I often hear there’s nothing worse than this type of grief… or another type of grief. If people are vulnerable enough to share their grief with you, never diminish it. I often hear people make comments about people passing away at an old age or after a long illness. As if the grief should be lesser. Don’t do that. It isn’t helpful.

Don’t let grief become you… don’t let it be your identity. You never know how strong you are until you’ve been tested. You will surprise yourself.

Finally, you may never be ‘better’, but you can still live, and life, as you will have learned, is the most precious of gifts. Never lose hope and look for those cracks of light that come through the darkness.

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