As a newly licensed therapist, I haven’t had a ton of experience with a lot of topics. However, the topic I have had a lot of experience with is grief. I spent about three years volunteering with Hospice of Lubbock as a bereavement helper and therapist. I learned a lot about the grief process and found that I work well with individuals trying to navigate the dark and scary process of grief. Below is a post I wrote this year on the anniversary of my grandfather’s death.
Grief is such an interesting experience.
Grief never really ends; it comes and goes.
It also changes in shape and size.
Seven years ago, my grandfather died.
It wasn’t my first loss, but it was definitely the most difficult. Logically, I have known all day that it was the anniversary, but I didn’t really feel any different. It seemed like just a normal day. Until this evening…
I went on a walk and the entire time I had this gut-wrenching feeling. Sure, I may have had some other things on my mind, but not things that made me feel like I did. I started processing my inner-experience out loud to my husband. Eventually, I started choking up and wanted to cry. I was confused and, frankly, frustrated that I was feeling all the feels. I told Sam, “and now I feel like crying! I don’t know why I want to cry, but I do. Maybe it’s just the day-…”
[Insert Sam’s confused face] “What?”
“Maybe it’s just today: June 5th”. And before I knew it I was looking at grief again.
Here I am, seven years older and wiser, and grief walks on up and says, “Hi! Remember me? Let me take you back to 18-year-old Natalie.”
And it did.
So this evening, I am 18-year-old Natalie, grieving missing her grandpa.
I’m not frustrated anymore because I was able to get curious with my feelings and put a name to my inner-experience. I am thankful that God gave us emotions- specifically an emotion that helps us honor and remember the ones we love.
May this be an encouragement to those of you who also grieve the loss of a loved one. Get curious. Embrace your feelings. Give yourself permission to experience your feelings. (That’s why God gave them to you.)
I share this story to demonstrate several things. First, to illustrate that grief never really goes away. Second, grief is so much more than an emotion of being sad. It is much more complicated and dynamic. Also, it is unique to each person. Third, there is much value in verbalizing and expressing your inner thoughts and experiences. I believe there is power in making the covert overt. When we keep things bottled up inside us, our minds tend to distort reality and a snowball effect begins to take place. Something that starts out as a small problem, over time, grows into something much larger and difficult to tame. In talking about what is going on inside of us we prevent the snowball from forming and allow ourselves to learn a little bit more about ourselves. It’s a freeing process, really.
This is my encouragement to you. What is some encouragement you can share with others who are grieving?