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Finding the Light in the Darkness of Grief

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For those of you who are just beginning your grief journey, I am here to reassure you and tell you I understand what you might be going through right this moment. I have been where you are. I want you to know it will get easier. I know this sounds untrue and it feels wrong, but at the end of this tunnel of grief, there can be light. If you feel like you are spiraling down and nobody will catch you, I want you to know you are not alone. I have been through this tunnel of darkness and crawled out into the light on my knees. I am thankful I made it out.

Grief can feel crushing in its intensity. It can cause you to sob uncontrollably and struggle to catch your breath. This is how the body can react to tragedy. Seek help now. Even if you think you don’t need it, even if a loving family surrounds you. Your mind and emotions can become dark rather quickly. Talk to a grief counselor, talk to your physician. These professionals were my saving grace when grief took over my entire being. I was in a cloud of smoke, unable to make my way out of the darkness until I was taught proper coping mechanisms. I found the light, but it took many months of work to make my way towards it.

If you are ready or want to, talk about him/her. Then talk some more. Cry, scream. Do what you must to give your emotions air. At times, remaining silent can be like letting a wound fester. As painful as it can be to speak about the loved one who just passed, it can also help with healing. Talk, write it down, get it out of you.

Read. I read as much as I could on grief and loss. I had to understand the “why” of it. Did I find the answers I was looking for? No, I could not and I still can never find a reason why my 8-year-old grandson was taken from us. Nevertheless, I found these books comforting. These books help loved ones to cope after a sudden death, and I found the daily meditations book inspiring. A daily thought to move me through my day. Grief books were the light that guided my way toward healing.

Get up and move. One of my biggest mistakes, and it still is today, is my isolation. As difficult as it can be, I suggest getting out and socializing. Go for a walk, go visit friends or family, do something — anything. This kind of movement can be an important function in healing the mind and soul. Grief can settle into depression or a condition known as complicated grief. This is a condition that significantly affects the mental and psychological functions of a griever. Depression and complicated grief are debilitating, leaving the grieving individual to feel as though they are trapped in darkness and despair. Medical attention is required in both cases.

Be kind to yourself. Grieving is a long and slow process. Along this dark tunnel, there can be many steps backward. There might be moments, days even when you do not want to move forward at all. The effort to get out of bed can be exhausting. If this is as far as you can get on this day, a few steps out of your bed, then pat yourself on the shoulder and accept this may be a day when self-care is all you can do. Self-care can be as simple as curling up with a blanket and watching TV all day or reading a book. A day of rest. This is normal, this is grief. Do not be hard on yourself if you fall back into sad days. There is a reason we say grief comes in waves. There is no shame in grief.

Grieving loved ones can last the rest of our lives. The hurt can be there for a long time. This is loss. This is love.

But there comes a time when we can think about our loved ones and smile. Perhaps with that smile we will still shed some tears, but we will have made it through a hard part of this grief journey.

In the darkness of grief, we spend long periods of time in mourning our loved ones. I have learned that the love left behind can heal and illuminate my soul. It is the beauty and loveliness of this eternal love that pulls me out of the darkness and into the light.

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Thinkstock image by francescoch

Originally published: July 7, 2017
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