Nothing can prepare you for the death of someone you love – or the messiness of grief that follows. We know that dying is a part of life, yet it is the hardest reality to accept or even understand. It feels impossible to wrap your brain around the fact that the person you loved so dearly is gone – that you will never have another conversation with them, hear them laugh, or tell them you love them, just one more time.
Grief is messy. While there are stages (anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance), it’s not linear. Sometimes these stages are separated by days, weeks, or even months. Then there are also times when you may be thrown from one to another or even through all of them in the course of just one day. It can feel unbearable at times. I recently came across this quote by Anna Quindlen that really exposes the rawness of grief: “Here is one of the worst things about having someone you love die. It happens again every single morning.” That raw, groundhog day experience is especially true in the beginning.
It is quite common to feel lonely when you have experienced great loss. especially when all of those people who show up to support you during the wake or funeral return to their normal daily lives. You might feel like you are being left behind or forgotten. And more than likely it is because those who have surrounded you during the weeks following the death really do not understand what you are going through. It is not that they don’t care. But no one is going through exactly what you are. Ever. You are unique and individual, and so is your grief. However, it can be helpful to remember that you really are not alone. The universal truth is this: at some point in every life, everyone will experience the death of someone they love.
For some that may be enough. Taking comfort in knowing that grief, loss, and death are all inevitabilities of the human experience. But if that knowledge does not suffice, there are a variety of sources of support out there, inclduing counseling and grief support groups.
There is no timeline for the process of grief, yet time can be a great healer. Know that even though your heart has been broken open, it will eventually be pieced back together.
My wish for you is that your heart swells when you remember the one you’ve lost and bursts with gratitude for having the privilege and blessing to have loved so deeply.
~Andrea Gargano, LCPC