On Grief and Loss…

I was struck once again by the raw reality of grief and loss just the other day when I heard about a friend of mine who lost his mother, his only parent, suddenly just last week. Loss is such a searing pain that aches for what can seem like eternity. There is simply nothing that others can say that makes it any less burdensome. We say “I’m sorry for your loss” because there is nothing left to say in the emptiness that is left behind in the wake of the absence of what or who was lost. We are left speechless, our brain initially unable to make sense of what has just happened. Most everyone can relate to having experienced loss, whether it be the death of a friend or family member, the loss of a relationship, or the loss of a piece of us as a result of traumatic event. The challenge in coping with the loss is to endure it’s discomfort; sitting with the emotional sting without a known end in sight.

It’s important to give ourselves the space to be with that emotional upset. To deny our sadness, loneliness, pain, is to deny the importance of what was lost. Sitting in the emotional discomfort allows our body and our brain to shift through the layers of experiences and memories to find a place where we can be settled, if even just for that moment. In the aftermath of a loss, there cannot be an expectation that you will “just get over it,” a message sometimes incidentally conveyed by others not so closely affected. With loss, we will never be “over it;” instead we move through it, as we move through the grieving process.

As time moves forward, it will seem as though those around us move on, perhaps seemingly leaving us behind as we continue to sit in the grief of it all. We perceive that others go back to their lives, while we feel stuck in the challenge of “letting go.” Yet, it’s not about letting go, but rather “putting it down” and finding a place to to be settled with it. The notion that we simply need time to heal is right on. Time and support, and patience with oneself. People around us wanting to provide solace need only be present in body and emotion to help us tolerate the pain that sometimes makes us want to crawl out of our own body. Sometimes a gentle touch is momentarily comforting, but other times it can serve as a sudden reminder of the reality of which we have just entered. Find your pace in the journey of grief and when you’re able, ask for what you need, moment by moment, day by day. Know that the pain of the burn of loss will soon crust over to a scab, shrink, and eventually heal to a small scar – a gentle reminder of what was once here and now is there.

Written By Lauren Robbins, MS, LPC, LADC