Meet My Friend Grief
A few weeks ago I commented on a post from Rachel Brathen (aka Yoga Girl) about the death of her friend. I was amazed by the outpouring of emotion by so many of her followers and their willingness to share their personal stories of loss. Death is difficult to talk about, made all the more so by our fear of upsetting someone who is already dealing with so much pain. The thing is they’re already in pain and that pain can become unbearable when it doesn’t have an outlet. Talking about our grief can help us to understand it.
So, inspired by Rachel and her followers I’d like to share my experience of grief with you.
My parents passed away within a few years of each other around my 30th birthday. Of course it changed me. I had never known grief like it. Friends and family who were close to me at the time, I think, hoped by some measure that the change in me was transient. And part of it was but the rest took hold.
Grief is constant but changing. I find it can be more difficult to deal with other people’s reactions to my grief than my grief itself. For me it has become an old friend. The truest kind of friend because we fight, we fall out and then we come back together again. I’m happy to let it evolve with me, it isn’t something I want to get over and that can be hard for someone who hasn’t experienced grief to understand.
I don’t want to get over my parents’ death.
But that doesn’t mean that I can’t move on because I can. I have just chosen to acknowledge it as a permanent part of me. My grief has changed me. That’s ok. I have come to see it as akin to Kintsugi, the Japanese art of repairing pottery with gold. Rather than mending a broken vase and trying to hide the cracks, my grief is beautiful in its recognition, in all its golden glory.
Whereas it was previously thought that grief lessened over time, scientists now believe that your grief remains the same size but rather your life continues to grow around it.
Long-held views about the grief experience have been discarded, with research evidence failing to support popular notions which construe grief as the navigation of a predictable emotional trajectory, leading from distress to ‘recovery’. We have also witnessed a shift away from the idea that successful grieving requires ‘letting go’ of the deceased, and a move towards a recognition of the potentially healthy role of maintaining continued bonds with the deceased. Recent research evidence has also failed to support popular notions that grieving is necessarily associated with depression, anxiety and PTSD or that a complex process of ‘working through’ or engagement with ‘grief work’ is critical to recovery. The absence of grief is no longer seen, by definition, as pathological.
Over time my grief brought me to my yoga mat and so a place that started to help me heal helped me also to find a different version of myself .
If this is something you are going through my heart goes out to you. I have included some links to articles and resources that may be a help to you.