The Many Faces of Grief series

The Many Faces of Grief: Introduction (Part 1)

In one of my rehab counseling classes, we have to do an advocacy project: we can advocate for an individual, a group of people, or the profession of rehabilitation counseling. Well, guess which group of people I selected? You guessed it…. people experiencing grief and loss in their life. So, I decided to do a blog series on what grief is, tips, etc., as one part of my project.

You see, I feel like most people expect grieving people to wallow in their loss for a short time–then move on. I read in a grief study recently that the time-frame experts give for people to grieve over the loss of a loved one is 2-3 months. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?? In my limited opinion on the subject, you can’t just “move on.” Your grief and your loss is very personal to you. That person has a special place in your heart–and only you know how to grieve that person. I’m reading Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s book On Grief and Grieving. This woman was a genius when it came to death and dying and grief and grieving.

“Your loss and the grief that accompanies it are very personal, different from anyone else’s. Others may share the experience of their losses. They may try to console you in the only way they know. But you loss stands alone in its meaning to you, in its painful uniqueness.”

Please remember that you’re not the only one experiencing the loss of one person. Yes, your grief is unique to you, but don’t say that you’re hurt and pain is greater than someone else’s. Because in their mind, it’s not. I’ll be blunt here–to me, I was the most important person in Jake’s life. Yes, that’s completely and totally selfish. But, I cannot let that consume me to the point that I think everyone else’s grief is less than mine. Because you’re hurting, too. (More on that topic later… “Look Up in your grief.”)

Anyway, I highly suggest everyone read this book because you will experience grief sometime in your life–it’s inevitable. We all die, and we’re all connected with someone who dies. It’s just a part of life.

Allow me to be blunt and frank in this first post–this isn’t my typical positive post. To truly do grief justice, I’ve got to let you know all different sides of grief. Even the not-so-pretty side of grief. Sometimes, I down-right HATE that I have to go through trying to live this life without my other half. Someone told me (I can’t remember who) that it’s like losing a leg. And I’ve had to learn to walk (or hobble) on one leg. I haven’t let grief overwhelm me, but I have experienced it. I’m not a person who likes to show emotion in public, so a lot of you have not seen me in my darkest moments. You’ve seen me as a ray of sunshine. And I’m glad. I want to be a ray of sunshine to others–that’s why I’m becoming a counselor.

“The truth is that grief can make you feel like you’re going crazy. Grief can make a liar out of you. You say you’re doing fine, when really you heart is shattered into a thousand tiny pieces. But everyone wants you to say you’re okay, so you do. We live in a culture that doesn’t know how to grieve. We don’t know how to experience pain, how to understand its process. We live in a society that wants us to get back to normal as soon as possible. We’re expected to go back to work immediately, keep moving, to get on with our lives. But it doesn’t work that way” (Maria Shriver, Foreword to On Grief and Grieving, 2014).

That quote could not be more true. It is my hope that through these blog posts about grief, you will gain a better understanding about what it is. Frankly, you will not fully understand grief unless you have gone through it yourself.

I want to point something out to you–something I just read recently by another young widow…. “we’re expected… to get on with our lives.” As a young widow, I recognize that I could get remarried and have children. But, it’s not guaranteed. I do want to feel that love again…it will have to be different because Jake’s love is special and unique and NO ONE will ever love me like Jake loved me (because no one else is Jake). But, because so many people have been telling that to me… oh, Becki, you’ll find another guy. You’ll be a mother someday, ETC…. I’ve started to believe it and even start to expect God to give it to me. And that’s dangerous. I’ve tried so hard to “move on” with my life that sometimes I wonder if I’ve allowed myself the time I need to grieve properly. I don’t know…. all I know is that God’s got me.

I want each of you to know that even though it’s been 13 months since Jake passed, I am still hurting. More than I let people know. Sometimes I feel paralyzed and broken. But all throughout this journey, I know that God has been with me every step of the way. That doesn’t mean that I still don’t hurt or cry or wonder why Jake had to die. It does mean that when I go through my dark moments, I’m not alone. And that’s what God promises us when we walk our grief path–He’s got us.

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