Friday, 5 April 2013

The journey of grief

Everybody experiences grief. But not everybody talks about their grief. This is because with every person’s grief the language to deal with it is different – just like they are. There is not one universal language of grief; there are as many ways to speak it as there are people to experience it. Grief is always personal.

The way to communicate feelings at times of intense sadness can be with words, but it can also be by being present, taking time, showing love. These things can all be done in silence, but they speak volumes to the person grieving. There may be times when you need help but can’t speak it. This is because grief can make it impossible for you to speak, or it can make you talk non-stop. It is a changeable visitor.

If people offer you help then that gift of love may be well received – even if it is not acknowledged immediately. You see, grief changes people. It has a mental, physical and social impact.

When someone else is grieving we console them in the best way we can. When we grieve we begin to understand how the grief occupies you from within. It is only then that it becomes a different kind of truth and pain. The ache you feel and the hole it comes with can never be truly explained to anyone else.

The journey of grief can consume whole lives. It has the capacity to devour everything. It may start with your focus, your memory, your concentration and continue until it has physically enveloped all of you. It takes you back to a state of naked emotions: social behaviour and constructs have no meaning and validity – maybe that’s why when grief is in control people hide away from each other. It is loss amplified. It saturates you.

Then as we tried to control grief on a daily basis we may keep hiding from each other, even though we are in plain sight. You see, like a wayward child, grief refuses to be constricted by social norms. It’s primeval and raw and appears anytime and anywhere. It is always present.

Which is why it amazes me that we talk about it so little. For something so pervasive in our individual and collective lives it seems to receive the minimum of attention until it has forcefully invaded our lives. Then we have to wear the grief for the remainder of our days. Like the unwanted spot on our forehead, it is with us everywhere we go and part of everything we do. It is your own.

Physically, grief is exhausting. It drains you of all energy. It numbs and heightens different emotions and often does it all at the same time. You are pulled in so many directions and yet can stay perfectly still in one spot. Experiencing grief is a journey of disorientation and throws you into the deepest panic without warning.

I think grief is one of life’s biggest paradoxes. For confusion levels, it is only matched by love. They are different sides of the same coin: both as potent as each other. They are equally important and they both appear to remain mysterious.

Grief is consistent in its inconsistency. It just is.

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