The Ranges of Grief

Right now I’m feeling energetic, hopeful and enthusiastic about being alive, and what’s to come.  A few days ago was one of the most intensely emotional days I’ve had, ever. So many tears, such depth of sadness, to the point I couldn’t really use my left brain at all, couldn’t write, could just barely find my center… And while intense emotion doesn’t bother me in itself, I realize the fear that comes up is “what if it’s permanent?!” What if I’ll never be able to think clearly, get grounded, look at anything in my house without being reminded that Elizabeth is dead, and just keep crying all day…Thank goodness some part of me could see outside of this place just enough to remind me that nothing stays the same forever. Nothing.  I believe whenever I’m in something that is uncomfortable, the real fear is that I don’t know how long it will last.  The not knowing is the hardest part. That’s where faith comes in – trusting that this too shall pass, and even if it doesn’t, if I question my beliefs (i.e. is that true? can I absolutely know it’s true?), I realize I’m fine.

I’m learning that grief is so many things. It is sadness beyond imagining. It is crying so hard I feel like throwing up. It is rage so great I want to break glasses, plates, and big glass doors (haven’t done that yet!). It is memories so sweet and so sad at the same time – like on Thanksgiving, remembering Elizabeth sitting at the table with us last year, having just had her first chemo treatment, with her usual attitude – sweet, polite, gracious, and also a bit above us all, in her ladylike, queen Elizabeth stance. Remembering her making an entrance, so beautiful you’d never know she had cancer or was going through chemo. I’ve had Thanksgiving dinner with her every one of her 22 years, and this first one without her was hard.  Grief can also be this comfort I feel today, trusting that all is ok. It can also be delight, warmth in my heart from small things, like a compliment or an invitation.

On the days when I wake with that depth of sadness, it feels like I might as well just embrace it and do some of the things I know would bring it on anyway. One day last week that meant attending to a few details like the simple act of finally cancelling Elizabeth’s Spotify account. It was heartbreaking – it also meant logging in to her Facebook account and then I was compelled to read her wall, and I felt her reading it, as though I was seeing the posts through her eyes along with my own, seeing all these diverse friends, parts of her life I wasn’t part of.  At the same time, I couldn’t feel her presence around me as I usually can.  Everything felt so close, so inside me, that I couldn’t get any perspective.  Today I can see the same things, the photos, her clothes, and not be deluged with tears…so much is grace.

The tears, the sadness, the gratitude and the excitement – I never knew grief had such range.

25 thoughts on “The Ranges of Grief

  1. The first Thanksgiving without my father, I ended up being rushed to the hospital for appendicitis. Grief demands our attention one way or another.
    So important to keep letting it express as long as needed; we all benefit. Thank you, dear heart.

    • Thank you Irene. Yes, it does demand our attention! I’m also seeing that expression of emotion isn’t always the primary way of grieving for some. For me it’s essential to cry when I need to, as I then feel relief, but it hasn’t always been that way, so I’m grateful that I can.

  2. My Dear Precious Mother Being Lucia. Thank you for sharing the feeling-full depth of your life, loss and growth process. You give so much at this time and the heart breaking I hear is also breaking us open. it is the wonder of having a physical body and the myriad of ways to show up as beautiful and broken, tired and strong, positive and weak. I love you.

  3. Lucia, I’m amazed at your strength and grace. Thank you for sharing. It brings tears to my eyes but it’s a learning experience as well. I think of you and Jane so often. I wish you peace and comfort as you travel through these many stages.

  4. you have turned yourself inside out, revealing the rawness of your emotions. we have all felt this but few are brave enough to let it show, put it into words, become this transparent. bless you for your words and your courage in sharing them. ❤

    • Thank you – we do all experience grief, in one form or another, so I’m hoping it is helpful to others. I hope that I also conveyed that most of the time I feel peace and joy in my daily life, and the sadness is one part of the grief…it’s all one whole.

  5. Lucia, thank you so much for sharing your grief and allowing us to learn from another layer of the human soul.
    I especially relate to your “confession” of judging cancer and that people may have made certain choices, physical or emotional, to recieve such a diagnosis. In my personnal quest to add to my knowledge of healing as a reiki practitioner I was led to Caroline Mass’ writing. Parts appealed to me but when I thought of children or young adults getting cancer, or any disease for that matter, her words of dis-ease just didn’t ring true.
    Your journey, as well as other close friends of mine over the last two yrs has helped me come up with another idea. Perhaps when these souls come to our lives and are destined to leave so soon, their lives are actually a lesson for those who’s souls they touch on this earthly plane. We are meant to learn from their experience, cancer in this case is a dark blessing meant to stretch and tear our emotions into places others are lucky enough not to experience. Although, with every pain that shreds me apart I know from experience once it has indeed passed I have gained wisdom in my soul that would not have existed, maybe just maybe it brings me closer to all that is. You need the darkness to see the stars.
    Thank you again for your pure generosity of spirit.

    • Kelly – so beautifully expressed, thank you! Yes, I feel much the same, that there are no mistakes, that even cancer and death is part of the divine plan, and if we can learn and grow and love more fully from the experience, then we are receiving the gifts that they truly are. You need the darkness to see the light, so very true!

  6. So beautiful Lucia and so heartbreaking. I wonder that you can write it all down so articulately. I feel like I can see what you must be going through. I would never say I can feel it because it is hard to feel anything that others feel (and sound like you mean it)
    but I can see it and I am amazed at how you come through it. I thought about you on thanksgiving (it was my daughter’s birthday) and I wondered how it was going for you. I find your descriptions of grief very helpful. thank you.

    • Thank you Sudha. I am so glad this is helpful, as this is part of my own healing process, to share this with others. Happy birthday to your daughter!

      I find this experience has helped me love more, and more deeply and with as much awareness as possible – that has been one of the greatest gifts. So glad for our connection.

  7. Grief for me is something I have to allow myself to go through. It’s like being tossed about and lost in the ocean, and I know that I have to just flow with it. In time, I’m in a safe harbor and my grief finds its resting place, and I can then start to live once again.

  8. You said it all, Lucia; and I am so tired now, reading what you wrote and thinking, yes, yes, yes but so tired I can’t say anything back; so tired that I think I’m not made of flesh and bone but of something ethereal because you sound so there, so solid. She gives you strength, doesn’t she? And you give it to me, even as you break my heart just a little more. The way to joy is to crack my heart open enough to get there. And THAT is why I value your friendship. You’re bringing closer to where Philip wants me to be.

    • Yes! It’s in the cracking open of the heart that we keep moving forward, and as painful as it is, it’s a gift too. Nothing can ever replace our beloved children, there is no true consolation, but to experience the world through this doorway, with our hearts cracked open with each memory, each experience, each message from them….we live a bit more fully and with an even greater capacity to love and to appreciate this life.

  9. I relate enormously to your range of feelings and how you have chosen to go into them. As an ex therapist I have worked with many people going through grief. But but it is only now I feel i have any real understanding of it. I think I’m in good grief but find that i don’t seem to be seeking an end to these feelings. Instead, I cherish the richness and variety of them, even those that like you make me feel sick. For therein remains the palpable essence of my child and the life we shared together here on earth. Thank you for being so open x

    • Thank you for writing, and I’m so sorry about the loss of your son. I read quite a bit of your blog last night, and it’s wonderful. Good grief is a good term – the idea for me that we welcome it, welcome the sorrow, the tears, the anger, and the release that comes through their expression. Then there is also the laughter, and the smile that often comes to my lips when I think of Elizabeth – her strong will, her attitude, her love and affection, her diverse interests, her wit and wisdom. I look forward to reading more of your writing. blessings, Lucia

      • Thankyou Lucia and for sharing your journey with Elizabeth. I’ve started reading your experiences and am moved by them. I wish I had more time to read and write, I’m needing to again. I have five other children 15 to nearly 2 and having taken time off work, I’m now busier than ever!

      • Wow, you must be busy! Just taking time to integrate all that’s happened is alot, plus 5 other children! I’m sure you’ll be guided when to write and what to read in the time that you do have, and there’s no hurry…For me, writing and sharing what my daughter and I wrote during the process of her illness has been immensely healing, and gives me great joy, so that’s why I do it. I look forward to more whenever the time is right.

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