No One Ever Told Me That Grief Felt So Like Fear …

Grieving is a journey that teaches us how to love in a new way now that our loved one is no longer with us. Consciously remembering those who have died is the key that opens the hearts, that allows us to love them in new ways.
— Tom Attig from The Heart of Grief

 

Heavy

That time
I thought I could not
go any closer to grief
without dying

I went closer,
and I did not die.
Surely God
had his hand in this,

as well as friends.
Still, I was bent,
and my laughter,
as the poet said,

was nowhere to be found.
Then said my friend Daniel,
(brave even among lions),
“It’s not the weight you carry

but how you carry it –
books, bricks, grief –
it’s all in the way
you embrace it, balance it, carry it

when you cannot, and would not,
put it down.”

— Mary Oliver from Thirst

 

Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. When you are standing in that forest of sorrow, you cannot imagine that you could ever find your way to a better place. But if someone can assure you that they themselves have stood in that same place, and now have moved on, sometimes this will bring hope.
— Elizabeth Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love

 

Why Are You Standing There, Looking at the Sky (Acts 1:11)

Someone says “Good-bye”
and disappears behind
doors or fades into
the distance in
a train or a car.
We might be standing at
the grave side of
someone we loved.
We keep looking, when
they have long vanished
from our sight as if to
hold on to their presence
just a bit longer – a futile effort.

Those who have left us
will be present to us
in other ways, in our hearts
and thoughts and memory.

Anyone truly precious to us
will have planted a seed
that will grow in us,
bloom and bear fruit,
nourished with loving care.
— Edd Hackl from Gratefulness.org

 

Grief, when it comes, is nothing like we expect it to be.
— Joan Didion from The Year of Magical Thinking

 

How to Move Through Grief as Grief Moves Through You

People keep asking me how I’m doing, and I’m not always sure how to answer that. It depends on the day. It depends on the minute. Right this moment, I’m OK. Yesterday, not so good. Tomorrow, we’ll see.

Here is what I have learned about Grief, though.

I have learned that Grief is a force of energy that cannot be controlled or predicted. It comes and goes on its own schedule. Grief does not obey your plans, or your wishes. Grief will do whatever it wants to you, whenever it wants to. In that regard, Grief has a lot in common with Love.

The only way that I can “handle” Grief, then, is the same way that I “handle” Love — by not “handling” it. By bowing down before its power, in complete humility.

When Grief comes to visit me, it’s like being visited by a tsunami. I am given just enough warning to say, “Oh my god, this is happening RIGHT NOW,” and then I drop to the floor on my knees and let it rock me. How do you survive the tsunami of Grief? By being willing to experience it, without resistance.
Elizabeth Gilbert (Instagram)

 

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning …
― C.S. Lewis from A Grief Observed

 

Grief

I had my own notion of grief.
I thought it was the sad time
That followed the death of someone you love.
And you had to push through it
To get to the other side.
But I’m learning there is no other side.
There is no pushing through.
But rather,
There is absorption.
Adjustment.
Acceptance.
And grief is not something you complete,
But rather, you endure.
Grief is not a task to finish
And move on,
But an element of yourself –
An alteration of your being.
A new way of seeing.
A new definition of self.
— Gwen Flowers excerpt in Grief’s Second Mile (written in honour of her babies: Skyler, Jordan, Hannah, Hope & Nicholas”)

 

Mourning is not forgetting … It is an undoing. Every minute tie has to be untied and something permanent and valuable recovered and assimilated from the knot. The end is gain, of course. Blessed are they that mourn, for theyshall be made strong, in fact. But the process is like all other human births, painful and long and dangerous.
— Margery Allingham from The Tiger in the Smoke

 

The Five Stages Of Grief

The five stages – denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance – are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or goes in a prescribed order.
— Elisabeth Kubler-Ross from On Death and Dying

 

Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.
— Anne Roiphe from Epilogue: A Memoir

 

Grief Only Ends When We Can Let Go

I’ve lost pets, friends, family, and more than a few illusions this past year. Some days, I feel haunted by the ghosts of grief, which take the form of anger, resentment, despair – the howling banshees of the inner life. We so desperately want to find something to hold on to, but everything changes, everything dies, and so we grasp after absences, we hurl our hearts into the vacuum where the things that we have loved and lost used to be. One thing I’ve learned is that grief only ends when we can let go of the idea that there is something outside of us that can make us whole, and that that something is now gone.
— Shozan Jack Haubner from Single White Monk

 

There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love …
— Dr. Johnson from The Mother’s Assistant 

 

The reality of grief is far different from what others see from the outside. There is pain in this world that you can’t be cheered out of. You don’t need solutions. You don’t need to move on from your grief. You need someone to see your grief, to acknowledge it. You need someone to hold your hands while you stand there in blinking horror, staring at the hole that was your life. Some things cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.
― Megan Devine from It’s Ok That You’re Not Ok

 

To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
— Mary Oliver from In Blackwater Woods

 

The Thing Is

to love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.
— Ellen Bass from Mules of Love

 

I wish this for you: to find the people you belong with, the ones who will see your pain, companion you, hold you close, even as the heavy lifting of grief is yours alone. As hard as they may seem to find at times, your community is out there. Look for them. Collect them. Knit them into a vast flotilla of light that can hold you.
― Megan Devine from It’s Ok That You’re Not Ok