The following is a copy of an article I wrote for an outlet that I no longer contributed to.
I wanted to make sure it was saved here.
Grief is weird. It is overwhelming and shows up at both the most unexpected and expected times.
I recently lost my Grandma. It’s been a lot harder than I ever imagined it would be. I know, for me, I thought- well, older people are old so yeah, they’re going to pass. As if telling myself this was going to lessen the blow of actually losing her. It didn’t.
My experience with the death of a family member started when I was really young. At the tender age of 7, I lost my father. He was murdered. As an adult, I thought that experience would set me up to handle death for the rest of my life. Boy, was I wrong. Not only did it not prepare me for future losses, it almost made them worse and more complex; as old traumas tend to be brought to the surface in light of new trauma.
Grief has a way of creeping into your every day existence. It shows up at the worst of times. Maybe it shows up while your shopping for groceries with your kids and you break down and cry in the middle of Super Target…. it happened to me. Maybe you see a flower and it reminds you of your loved one. Or you catch a scent that someone is wearing and it slaps you in the face with the reminder that someone dear to you is no longer around. Or worse yet, you go to call them and remember they’re gone.
After the initial shock of losing someone wears off, people stop asking how you’re doing and you’re expected to go back to your regularly scheduled life. People no longer want to hear about how hard it and how you are having a hard time coping months later. I am here to remind everyone that grief has no end date.
You quite possibly will grieve, in some way, for the rest of your life. Purple flowers will always remind me of grandma and airplanes will always remind me of my dad. Things pop up and they sting as if it happened just yesterday.
I’ve discovered that sometimes grief comes out in ways we wouldn’t expect. When most people think of grief, they think of crying and sadness. What most people fail to realize is that everyone shows grief differently. It can show up as anger. Irrational anger or a short fuse. There are also stages of grief, but just because you have reached the final stage of grief does not mean the pain OR grief just go away. We just eventually learn to cope with it for better or for worse. Learning how to cope with it in a healthy way is the key to moving forward.
Although it is hard to go on; doing things like having a memorial, a grave to visit, a place you go to let your pain out, are all good ways to help yourself and others cope and survive the loss. For me, talking about the loss with other family members really helps. Sharing pictures and memories with each other is beautiful and helpful to all involved. It’s important to be able to talk about it with others. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone, days, months or years later. My dad has been gone for almost 30 years, and I still struggle sometimes. Grief has no end date.
When you suffer a significant loss, you will have good days and bad days. Some days are really, really bad, but some days are really, really good.
“Grief is like glitter. You can throw a handful of glitter into the air, but when you try to clean it up, you’ll never get it all. Even long after the event, you will still find glitter tucked into corners, it will always be there- somewhere.” – Unknown