I remember a while back listening to a podcast where the woman being interviewed was talking about the process of grief. She said something that stuck with me, and it’s something I’ve often repeated to friend’s in need, and of course, to myself.
If you get caught in the rain, you get wet.
When you’re wet, you’re wet. You can’t un-wet yourself.
Grief is very much the same.
When trauma hits, when you lose a loved one, or life throws you a curve ball that requires you to mourn, it becomes your new reality • or as you all know I like to call it, your “new normal”. You can’t undo the trauma, the sadness, the weight of your loss – all you can do is flow through your process, and succumb to the fact that you can’t un-wet yourself.
But you will survive.
One of the best things that I’ve done and continue to do throughout my grieving process after the loss of my dad was to understand that grief isn’t, and never will be, a one size fits all scenario. Nor is there this “perfect formula” that you see in books or on the internet claiming to have 5 stages to work through. You may know them as:
While yes, all 5 of these things most definitely rear their ugly head throughout grief (alongside some others that go unmentioned), but the notion that they flow in some perfect order and you’re left with acceptance is, well, dare I say complete bullshit? (I do)
Because here’s the truth: First, I was angry. I was so angry I was punching things, quite literally screaming at the top of my lungs and yelling every curse word I could think up at the time. Then I was just numb. Perhaps this could be defined as “depression” – but for almost 3 days I didn’t eat, I didn’t speak, I just slept. When I did wake up, I either laid there and didn’t move a muscle, or I sobbed. Denial started to creep when when we were making funeral arrangements. I can’t even for sure say that it was denial, rather just autopilot. Things needed to get done – that’s just the way that it was, but you better believe that at any given moment, anger (which I might also add that bargaining usually makes its way into this arena), depression/numbing, and SHOCK (which they don’t talk about – and no, it’s not the same as denial) all creep in whenever they feel like it.
Grief is a loop.
I’m coming up on 5 years since I lost my dad, and I won’t lie to you and say that I’m at acceptance and life is as lovely as it can be in my “new normal.” For example: when I went through my most recent breakup a few months ago, all I wanted was to talk to my dad, the only constant man in my life. I wanted him so badly to come back Earthside and just have a cup of coffee with me while I mourned the end to something good. Yes, the spiritual part of myself knows full well that he’s around me all the time. But sometimes, that’s just not good enough.
So you get angry. And then you cry. And then you play the victim a little bit (“why did this have to happen to me?”) And then you come back to acceptance because a butterfly randomly lands on the railing of your patio. And then you cry some more because grief is a loop, and it just. doesn’t. stop.
I don’t tell you this to rid you of any hope that you’ll ever be happy again. On the contrary. I tell you this in full, raw form because I want you to know that you are HUMAN and that you’re doing the very best you can in a very horrible new life cycle, and how you’re doing it is perfect, because it’s yours.
Grief will never let go of it’s grip on you, because grief is now a part of your story. It’s a part of who you are, because you were lucky enough to have something so difficult to lose.
Let this be a message to you that no one can ever, and should ever, tell you how to grieve. Not even me. There are no 5 steps to flow through. There is only you, your insides, and your process.
Grief is a loop.
You can’t un-wet yourself.
So just breathe.
(and know that I love you)