What is grief?

watching the rainIt’s feverish activity, and slumping for hours in a chair. It’s screaming your head off but remaining quiet; it’s forgetting little things and then forgetting that your loved one has died at all. It’s tears that never seem to stop flowing; and then a dam of tears that can’t break through; a boiling hot rage and simmering resentment.  It’s bleak, cold and being alone.  It’s just plain sad.

And it’s discovering new friends, opening your heart even more, and asking for help that you then have to receive. It can contain moments of sweet joy in life itself, and even a glimpse of happiness, alongside the pain. It’s utter terror at tiny things; and huge strength where before you might have crumbled. It’s everything and nothing all at once. And it is transformative.

Your life will never be the same again, and of course there is sadness about that. But one of the hidden gifts in grief is through experiencing it. Allowing yourself to be transformed by grief allows the lessons and gifts to emerge.

All emotions are to be welcomed. That is one of the purposes of grieving: to be able to expand into the full range of emotions available to us as human beings. With that expansion ultimately can come a healthier balance in your life, involving more compassion for yourself, and also for others: more tolerance for things that really don’t matter, and yet more strength to stand up for things that really do. It really can be a transformative experience.

(Excerpts taken from my forthcoming book, ‘Gifted By Grief: A True Story of Cancer, Loss and Rebirth’)

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