On loss and grieving

Truths about death and the grieving process:

• Whether your loved one passed from a long, short or painful sickness – or if it’s sudden – death is always a shock. Always.

• Grievers don’t often say, “I’m glad it was quick, so they didn’t suffer.” This statement comes from those around the grieving to try to make death seem like the better option. It’s not, because…

• Death is final. This seems obvious, but it’s never as obvious as when you’re facing it. And that finality is really hard to bear. 

• The grieving will have many missing and half-completed conversations with no one to finish them. Being the person to hear those stories is a gift.

• There are signs of the departed’s presence. Keep an eye out. They’re here, I promise.

• Grief lasts forever and will remind you of the person who’s missing and how much you love them.

• You’ll try to pick up the phone or text the departed, which feels cray-cray. You’ll want to share your triumphs and trials with the departed. 

• Life as you knew it will never be the same. We don’t really want it to be the same; things will never again be the “way things were.”

• Grief comes in waves. If you can allow it to wash over you rather than push it away, you’ll notice it comes out of nowhere and then passes quickly.

• In the beginning, you’ll find it hard to laugh or smile. Somehow, guilt fades and joy finds its way back to you. When joy comes, attribute it to your loved one. They want you to feel joy.

• Grief doesn’t go away, but you get sort of used to it. Eventually, you’ll notice you’ve made amends with the cruelty of the universe.

• You will remember every nuance, quirk and annoyance your departed had. These will be the things you miss the most. Weird, I know.

• Allow space for healing. Be present. Go slow. Drink tea. Snuggle with pets and inside of warm blankets. Sit quietly. Be in nature. 

• Grief requires grace. Some will say truly awful things, because they don’t know how to be with your grief. If it feels right, keep a log of these statements and turn them into a joke. This can be done as a project with other grieving loved ones. 

• Grief isn’t always “sad.” Often, grief is disguised as anger, resentment, frustration, blame, fear, hyperactivity, busyness, avoidance, etc. If it seems unusual, it’s grief.

• There is no appropriate timeline for grief. 

• Some of these processes will ring true for you; some will not. Your grief is yours and is unique, and it’s never wrong.

• A common misconception is grievers don’t know what they need. That’s not true; they need their departed back. Try to intuit what they need rather than ask. Be present for them, and when they know what they need, they won’t have to ask.

– Brooke Smith, Durango