The writer, Martin Prechtel, has a wonderful quote about grief:
"Grief expressed out loud for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses."
When I think of grief, the image of an arrow piercing through the center of a heart comes to mind. The arrow instantly numbs everything, sending the heart into a state of shock. The reaction may be to pull the arrow out immediately, but it doesn't budge. The arrow stays in for a period of time and everyone notices. People comment about it and offer condolences to help ease the pain. The heart remains paralyzed.
After some time, the initial shock wears off and the heart begins to soften again. As the heart softens, the arrow loosens. Soon enough, the arrow pulls free from the chest. Once the arrow is removed, the person has the opportunity to catch their breath, something they haven't done in weeks, or even months.
No more arrow, no more visible pain. What's left is a big gaping hole.
This is when the grief work begins.
I recently read a facebook post written by a friend who lost her 9 year old daughter after a long battle with Cystic Fibrosis. She wrote openly about her feelings and concerns when it comes to talking to others about her daughter. She stated that she doesn't want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Most importantly, she wants to convey the large impact her beautiful daughter had on her life.
It is wonderful that my friend was able to express her feelings and grief out loud. This can make a huge impact on people's lives. The world is hungry for more parents who are willing to speak openly about the loss of a child, including the raw and uncomfortable parts. She is not alone in her pain. There are many people walking around with gaping holes in their chest. Their grief has not found its voice yet.
One of the biggest and most important legacies that our loved ones leave behind is the grief we feel in our hearts. Grief is praise. We must honor these loved ones by allowing our grief to be expressed out loud. Through this process, a person can find tremendous healing. The gaping hole can be filled again.
We will all grieve and it is imperative that we allow it to be expressed in its many forms. This expression is powerful and creates a ripple effect onto individuals at all stages of their grief.
I once had an arrow pierced through the center of my heart. I also had a gaping hole. Today I unapologetically express my grief and praise for my beautiful loved ones who have gone before me.
If you would like to access more resources and tools for grief and death, please check out my website The Conscious Dying Network .
This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn't make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grieve differently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let's talk about living with loss. If you have a story you'd like to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.