I’ve been thinking about grief and loss lately as I’ve support a friend whose had three deaths in her life this year, as I’ve learned a patient in her 20s is facing hospice, and listened to a patient’s family member tell me her husband was more upset about missing his son’s birthday than the brain bleed he endured.
Recently I’ve talked with daughters whose mother’s depression over her husband’s death and her own terminal cancer has left her feeling she has no control. Instead she chooses to eat little and talk less to find that sense of control. Grieving is painful, sad, hopeful, comforting, numbing, angering…it washes over us as we listen to the lyrics of a song, glance at our photos or reach for our keepsakes. We hang on to memories, remembering their voice, wanting to call them about something only they would understand – and we must find a way to keep on living without.
At times we may live days in a row without thinking of them. Other days we remember all too well and are hit again by the fact that I’ll never see him again, never laugh with her again. Perhaps our grief is linked to the loss of physical ability after a head injury, having to depend on family as caregivers and learn how to walk again. Or face the guilt we feel for missing out on family milestones and we now feel a burden during what should be a joyous time.
There is no easy fix when facing grief. Often it is important to find support in our friends and family or even a support group as grief can be isolating. It is important to remember while our own experience is unique, others experience very similar feelings as well. It can be important to find ways to express our grief creatively whether through art, pottery, or some other creative outlet or verbally through story telling and sharing. There can be something empowering about finding a cause that our loved one believed in that we can support, or joining a cause for an illness that we too are living with.
No matter what we choose as an outlet it is important to face our grief, otherwise grief can manifest in other ways such as headaches or compromised immune systems. Finding a counselor who specializes in grief and loss can be helpful, as someone who provides this type of support I will work with clients to share stories, work through the pain, and find a new path to walk as one learns to live without.