"Grief is forever. It doesn't go away; it becomes a part of you. I will never stop grieving... That's just how it is. Grief and love are conjoined, you don't get one without the other... ― Jandy Nelson, The Sky Is Everywhere
Life and death are intertwined. The fact that we breathe is to acknowledge our humanness, mortality and the inevitability of death. Life and love are intertwined. From the moment we are born, we begin to form attachments - to family, things, experiences, and relationships. So, what happens when we lose someone we love or have to face our own impending death? We grieve. And while life and loss are an inevitable and constant cycle, grief is often the elephant in the room. People rarely want to face others' pain. I find though, that the deepest human connections are formed, not only in experiencing the joys of life with others, but as equally, in loving them as they process emotions, like grief, giving them a safe place to unmask, and holding a sacred space where you allow them to "be" - for their love is as sacred as their pain. I had the opportunity to learn from three extraordinary people, who have dealt with grief in different ways - DebiJo lost her husband to leukemia; Laura lost her son to suicide. Beth lives with metastatic breast cancer and faces her own mortality daily.
Your True Friends Allow You to Un-Mask & Meet You Where You Are. "When my son died, people did not know what to say, especially when the death was a result of suicide. I came to detest the phrase, "I am so sorry for your loss." I now can't bring myself to say those words to a grieving loved one. Through grief, I learned that there were no words that would make my grief less, but a touch, a hug, silence, or holding my hand made me feel supported. Some people understood while others must have found it off-putting. I could not worry what others felt. My priority was to take care of my loved ones and me. However, I had to come first for me to help those I loved. My loved ones and true friends understood. I had no energy to wear a mask of well-being. I had to grieve in my own way. There was no right or wrong. No time frame. Queen Elizabeth II is credited with having said, "Grief is the price we pay for love." So if we continue to love, our grief will change but it is because we love and for that I am grateful." - Laura Reid
Get It Out - Bottling up Grief Isn't an Effective Coping Mechanism. I'm living with terminal breast cancer, which means I'm not only dealing with my own impending mortality, but also watching friends with the same illness getting sicker and dying. Each death breaks my heart anew, and I can't help but imagine how, all too soon, my family will feel like my friends' families do. The only thing I've found that helps me swim back from the depths of my grief is to let it out. Sometimes that means I just sit and sob; other times, I write some more, just to get it all out. - Beth Caldwell
Be a Living Example of Your Love. My husband of 27 years passed away after years of battling leukemia. I handled my grief by remembering the gifts he gave me. He encouraged me to nurture relationships while we dealt with his illness and ultimate death, so I would not be alone when he was gone. He encouraged my work, so I would have fulfillment. He encouraged me to one day find love again so I would have a partner. A day doesn't go by that I don't miss him. But I remember the fun times we had, the love we shared, and memories that can't be taken away. I honor him instead of grieve for him, and have a ritual I do on our anniversary, the anniversary of his death and his birthday. I get a balloon and write to him and let it float up to the sky. I light a candle every Sunday in church and talk to him about the week, and ask him to hold me tight so I won't fall. My grief is the joy I had in knowing this man, and so I honor him every day.
While there is no crash course on life, grieving or dying, what I learned from Laura, DebiJo and Beth are that there is no right or wrong way to grieve and certainly, no limit on the time. It's also important to let it out, and allow yourself to feel your way through it. Lastly, as much as possible, focus on life and find ways to honor yourself or the one that you lost. As Elizabeth Bucchianeri so gracefully wrote, "So it's true, when all is said and done, grief is the price we pay for love."