There are literally no words that can fully express what grief is, especially when it’s due to the loss of a loved one.
We all deal with grief in a different way and process through things in a different way. It’s just impossible to define to somebody how you feel.
The loss of my husband was completely different for me than the loss of my son because my relationship with my husband is one thing and my relationship with my son is another.
A New Appendage
No matter whether it’s a loss of a loved one or a loss of something else, it’s always grief. One way I describe it is that it feels like you grow another arm –like you have a new appendage attached to your body that is now a part of you. It’s never going to go away.
Grief does lessen over time, but it’s always there. Some people have defined it as carrying the weight around or feeling like they’re pressed upon all the time.
I just learned how to maneuver with the new appendage.
Sneak Attacks of Grief
Another part of grief that isn’t talked about much is how it sneaks up on you. You’ll be going about your day and then all of a sudden there will be a trigger or a memory, and it’s like a sneak attack of grief. Smells sometimes cause these sneak attacks for me. Music always does. I can be minding my own business when I hear a song and it instantaneously takes me into a whole different place and knocks the wind right out of me.
It happened my first Christmas after losing my husband. I was in a department store, and I worked hard to avoid the men’s section because it was such a trigger for me. But I ended up having a meltdown anyway and had to leave.
Eventually, you get used to the little sucker punches and you learn how to deal with them. You also learn how to avoid them as best as you can.
Joy often brings pain with it when you’re grieving. My daughter Laurel’s wedding, the birth of my grandbaby Pryce – these moments are incredible milestones. They are also reminders of how different things are than how we envisioned them to be. But it does go in waves. You go through a period where you get used to that appendage, and you get through the milestones, holidays, or birthdays.
And then something else comes along and you have to go through a whole new adjustment again. That is why grief is a constant thing in your life.
Whatever you’re going through, whether it’s a personal issue, a professional issue or the new normal we’re dealing with collectively, we’re all grieving losses to some degree right now. So honor and acknowledge that.
Laurel and I wrote our book Keep Looking Up to help those who are grieving, along with their friends and family members who want to help them, have insights and a guide for turning grief into hope after a tragedy.
Keep Looking Up!