The process of grief is anything but linear. What would be nice is a clear cut path with a beginning and end, but that’s not the way grief works. It feels more like a tidal wave that comes out of the blue and knocks the wind out of you, or a dull aching pain that pulls like an undercurrent threatening to swallow you whole.
As I entered in to the deepest grief my heart has known, I felt a disturbing pressure. I looked around at all the people who were able to carry on, but I felt frozen and stuck in the pain of my sister’s death. Though I know the unpredictable nature of grief, and am quick to invite others to kindness, curiosity, and care in this space, I felt bombarded with judgment and shame in my own process. One day, my counselor asked me what that voice of judgment had to say and my response was, “you suck!” This was an old familiar voice that seemed to get violently louder in this new vulnerable space. He cautioned me to attend to that voice and the grief would subside. He was right. As I began to notice the harsh critic who mocked my very process, I realized that this was not the real problem. I began to find new words and stood against the harsh critic: “I don’t suck, grief sucks. I am not my grief. I am the light of the world.” Learning to differentiate my self from the pain I was experiencing was a critical part of my process.
It has been three months since my sister passed, and I am standing on a little more solid ground. I am still grieving, but I have come to honor the waves of grief instead of run or thrash against them. Each wave is an invitation to pause and remember, to feel, and release. Sometimes the pain that I feel scares me and threatens to consume me, but it never does. It ebbs and flows in a perfect rhythm; healing me bit by bit.
When I remain busy, it is easier because I don’t have to feel so much, but I know this grief is meant to be felt. When I sat with my mom the other day, she had a wave of grief bubble up. She tried to wipe it away and apologize. I held her and validated the pain that was underneath it.
We are meant to feel and release the hurt that death leaves behind. It is one of the best ways to honor what is missing.
When we engage and choose to tell the truth, it becomes Holy ground. God fills the gap and heals the empty space that death leaves, if you allow it to be opened and surrendered to him.
Our world doesn’t grieve well. The fast paced culture screams, “aren’t you done yet?” This pressure I have felt to be done grieving in order to fit into a world that doesn’t have time to stop and really care, landed me in a bad place a few weeks ago. “I’m not OK,” I blurted out as I sat down in my chiropractor’s chair and looked into the eyes of compassion that have brought such grace and healing over the years. Dr. Sherry said, “I can see that.” She began to work and a river of tears flow out of my aching heart. What caused alarm was when she said. “It’s ok for me to be done grieving Mary.” “NO!” my heart cries out. She identified the embodied fear in being “done grieving” and probed deeper. “I’m afraid that if I stop grieving, Mary will somehow disappear. I feel like the only way I have to access her is through the grief.” She identified this as a false belief and re-oriented me to the truth that Mary’s love will remain.
This truth brings comfort and peace as I learn to love what is and rest in the ease of my grieving process. I know that it is OK for me to grieve for as long as it takes. I also know that when the waves of grief stop crashing and the water becomes still that it is a good idea to rest in the stillness and celebrate the love that remains and anchors me. The process of grief never truly ends. It is a collective ongoing journey into the mystery of eternity which is hidden in the human heart.
Today, may you enter boldly into your own process of naming and acknowledging the beautiful gift of what once was so that you can fully experience the richness of the love that remains.
Jean Masukevich is a special education and yoga teacher. She holds an advanced certificate in grief and trauma from the Allender Center of Psychology and Theology and is passionate about facilitating healing spaces for individuals and groups in need of care. Her therapeutic approach incorporates yoga, meditation, art and the use of narratives to help people integrate mind, body and Spirit. Jean loves to play outside and enjoys quality time with her husband and four awesome children. You can find her here: www.sowthat.com
Thank you for sharing these beautiful, kind and truth-filled words. I am especially grateful as I also navigate the uncharted waters of the grieving process. What a gift from the Lord for my tender heart!
Thank you, Jean. You have spoken so clearly what I have experienced, but you did more than that. You have given me a new area to explore, and a new way to frame the healing my heart so needs. God bless you in your journey.
Oh, Jean, I wept reading this, mostly because of its beauty and rawness. I am deeply sorry for your loss AND I love what you are open to learning in the midst of it. You are so right in embracing the grief, lest it gets sabotaged by the Accuser who stops at nothing to drive us to self-destruct.
I recall struggling similarly when my childhood best friend died of cancer 18 years ago. I also feared that “if I stop grieving, [my friend, Diane] would somehow disappear.” Thank you for not sugar-coating the grieving process and leaning into all God meant for you in the midst of such a difficult season. You are a beautiful writer and warrior, my friend!
Heart touching, I am in deep grief and can relate with this post..
Thanks for going through the healing process that makes so much sense to me. I’ll be rereading this post…
Jean, your writing always rocks my world. Rocks my heart. You allowed me to feel the waves of sorrow which I had not felt for an amazing man five years younger than me. (he was 60)
He brought thousands…maybe millions to Christ. He loved people. He helped countless families in grief. And those whose families grieved their loved ones through suicide. His depression took him down. His beloved wife found him. And….I miss him so much and have not had tears. Not because I did not dearly love him and mourn him. I do not know why. Anyway…your words…brought seasick waves of grief that I needed…….thank you.
Jean……you speak so beautifully and you speak for so many of us……You ARE NOT alone! Love you. xoxoxo
Jean, I am so very, very sorry for the loss of your dear, dear sister. I cannot imagine how deep your sorrow is….
You might appreciate this post from Red Tent Living. I love you!
On Thu, Feb 8, 2018 at 5:32 AM, Red Tent Living wrote:
> redtentwomen posted: “The process of grief is anything but linear. What > would be nice is a clear cut path with a beginning and end, but that’s not > the way grief works. It feels more like a tidal wave that comes out of the > blue and knocks the wind out of you, or a dull aching” >
So important to speak out about grief and in turn to allow others to do the same. Am sorry for your loss. I lost my Father two years ago and began writing poetry every day since the day after his funeral. Many of my poems are about grief and my writing has been very therapeutic. have a poetry blog here on WordPress and my poem today is about the healing power of tears in case you have time to look? Have a sunny day, Sam 🙂