When Grief Hits The Fan

- By Robert Mays 

ben-white-194220.jpg

Life has a funny way of playing itself out. When I was a child, I would make statements, blank judgmental statements of how Iwould handle certain situations. For example,  “I would never do…” or “I can’t believe someone would put up with …, they must be stupid”. My mother wouldreply calmly, “You’ll never know what you will or won’t do in a situation. Keep Livin’.” And I would think, “Damn it, she’s right!”

We say what we won’t do, but we often times we underestimate are own capabilities. So what is the relevance of grief to actions? Well its quite simple, because loss in life is normal and we are so busy with our regular activities and schedules, we are so busy just trying to make it to the next weekend we forget to stop and smell the flowers,  but more importantly we miss out on the life lesson. To be clear, grief is the state or the process one undergoes when they experience a loss. We often associate this with physical death, but we never explore how this looks when we stop speaking to a close friend, a bad break-up, the cousin who betrayed you, or the absence of a caregiver. Our culture is built on the notion of people entering and exiting our lives. In loss, we have hopes of an afterlife or the chance to rebuild and grow. But that does not happen unless one is prepared to explore who they were before, and who they are now. There is something humbling about the grieving experience. For some, it opens up suppressed pain,  for others the notion of guilt (What I haven’t done? or How I could have made it better?) is consuming. Whatever the dominate feeling may be, there is no better time to pull back and start “checking yourself”.

When we are victims of loss we are taught to push through, let it go, move on. In some part; this should occur. However; it’s not healthy. This causes people to think they bypassed or have fully dealt with the loss, but in reality the process is delayed and when it resurfaces, as it will, the plight is much worse; and usually at the most inconvenient time. 

Man, life is messy and complex. Through loss we find ourselves trying to make sense of what was, what is and what calls into question the very things we hold on dearly to. It takes an incredible amount of strength to examine one’s self, recognize the loss experience, and how one has been impacted. That’s not weakness, that’s fortitude. Grief, when handled correctly should force you to evaluate what matters. It should make you question the reciprocal nature of the people in your circle. It should cause you to let go of people that don’t add value. Grief will ultimately make you stronger.

Now this process isn’t clean. AT ALL. Trust me. The very things we make declarative judgmental statements about, are the very predicaments we find ourselves in. Life transitions, in particular, grief, is one of many catalysts propelling people into loops, patterns, and cycles they never saw themselves apart of. The heart is fickle about all things, who really can understand it? We have such an aversion to pain, we seek pleasure and comfort wherever we deem it safe and acceptable. How that looks in your life depends on how you cope with stress. I’m just here to say “It’s okay”. Life is a journey, not a 100 meter dash. You’ll get to where you need to be in due time and due season. In the words of a wise man, “The sea is full of transition; the balance makes you appreciate the smooth ride, but surviving the waves gives you confidence.” – anonymous By Robert Mays