You can read about it and watch others go through it but it’s tough to prepare because grief is unique – there’s no such thing as an expert and there’s no one way to go through it. In 1969, Elisabeth Kubler Ross opened the discussion about grief by introducing the five stages of grief in her book, On Death and Dying but I believe this model is shallow and flawed.
From where I’m standing, grief tells the truth. It’s a natural response to any loss and it’s not necessarily linear or logical. It’s messy. Grief has grabbed and thrown me around over much and many in my life and I don’t want anyone to trivialize the intensity of the experience.
I don’t want anyone to take my grief away.
It’s not meant to be avoided – it’s meant to be experienced. I have learned that grief isn’t my enemy – it’s the process of healing that I need to embrace. It’s the healthy way to deal with a broken heart.
I once heard that “grief is like an onion. It comes off one layer at a time and you cry alot.” I like that. It’s simple and it’s true. There are so many layers to grief as we face reality, respond and reconstruct…and it all takes time. We need to go through it – not around it.
As I walk beside my husband and his family, I want to be a safe person for them – someone who will listen to the stories over and over again. I can’t fully understand their grief because their words can’t explain their feelings. But I do believe that every grieving person want someone to try to understand. Children want to show you their “boo boo” and adults wants to show you their grief.
I want to be that set of ears.
I believe that listening legitimizes feelings and give credence to a person’s thoughts. No one wants their grief explained away. Grief is about walking along side people and lending your ears to their stories.
It’s hard to listen well. When it comes to grief, we don’t think we’ve done anything until we’ve said something but the reality is there is great power in presence without words.
I want to be those arms that hug and that shoulder to lean on.
Hang around, hug, hush and hope. This is how you love those who grieve.