Why Grief Never Expires

3 min Article Meditation & Mindfulness
The honest thing to admit is that you're never letting go of your grief. It's like gaining the holiday five. Another way to consider your grieving timeline is giving yourself time to remember, not forget.
Why Grief Never Expires

In a recent discussion on our sister collective, End of Life, there was a great discussion on whether there's a timeline placed on grief. Dianne Gray posed the following thoughts, and my response to her is a personal perspective on the fact that grief doesn't need to take a holiday. 

The honest thing to admit is that you're never letting go of your grief. It's like gaining the holiday five. Those pounds that we mean to get rid of in January, but come March or July, it's still there. And you know what? We're used to it by then and it's alright, and we just start to walk through life with that extra five pounds. It's worth mentioning that In America, we can clinically diagnose someone with depression two weeks after the death of a child. This is in the DSM-5. There are proponents who say, "Well good because then people can receive grief counseling covered by insurance". No. How about we adequately and accurately provide grief care for people that doesn't cost $150/hr. How about we do that instead of label them with a code that has ramifications? If a person is labeled clinically depressed two weeks after the death of their child, that can affect things like parental visitation. I understand why people may not go to a psychologist or psychiatrist and get a diagnosis for mental wellness issues. I don't call it mental illness; I call it mental wellness. - Dianne Gray, EOL, Roundglass 

There are commonly accepted unexamined myths like: after a year things change. Some of that is rooted in religious tradition, but the main thing that I have noticed in my experience is that the really intense pain does get better. Other than that, love does not go away or change. For me, being in relationship with Paul, who died almost 4 years ago, hasn't changed. I don't mean that in a mystical way; I mean feeling connected to him, feeling like he is my family forever, thinking about him while I'm raising our daughter and loving him, and even feeling responsible to him in making my own life decisions that affect our daughter, or decisions about his book. He really figures into my life, and in particular, really loving him forever and feeling sad forever. Whatever you're going through is normal. People's experiences and feelings are so varied, sadness of course, but also guilt, anxiety, relief. 

These things are universal.

One last thing that is actionable, you don't want to stop thinking about or talking about your person. In Sheryl Sandberg's book, she talks about being at a dinner party where couples were talking about their origin stories, how they met, and nobody asked her how she met her husband who had died. And she felt totally lonely and invisible. Either people didn't consider it or they thought if they asked it would make her sad, but she needed to tell the story just like a normal person because she is and she still holds the story. We don't always give each other room to express, like, what would your mom have said in this situation or what was your sister like or what was your baby's name? It feels good to talk about those things, just like it feels good when that person is alive, because it's your people. There's a quote I love that says: "When someone dies, you don't "get over" it by forgetting; you "get over" it by remembering."

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