When people come to me in grief, they usually come because the pain they carry feels heavy and inescapable. They are carrying around this looming shadow that they don’t know what to do with. They yearn for a sense of normalcy. They want to know the way through grief.
But grief rarely works this way.
People ask me:
How do I get to the other side of this?
What can I do to feel like myself again?
And in response, I tell them a little bit about grief; grief is it’s own shepherd and it will guide you if you let it. You don’t need to get over it, around it, through it, behind it, or in front of it. But if you’re in it, you may just find that grief will lead you where you need to go.
Approaching grief in this way doesn’t mean that we must meet loss with resignation. It means being patient with ourselves as we follow grief on the path it lays before us.
It means sometimes making time and space to sit with grief and get acquainted with it, even though it’s uncomfortable, even though society tells us we need to “move on”, even though it can be scary.
It means sometimes consciously choosing to distract yourself so that you can have a respite from the pain.
It means stretching yourself to find new paths toward healing. Some paths will be more fruitful than others but the endeavour is what matters.
It means finding solace in some relationships and distancing yourself from those relationships that don’t support your healing efforts.
It means allowing time to play a part in your healing but recognizing that in reality, it won’t heal all wounds. Some wounds become scars that we learn to live with.
It means letting happiness into your heart even though it can feel like betrayal. We must learn how to carry both joy and sorrow simultaneously for while we may not feel able, our hearts are equipped for this kind of multitasking.
It means learning to live a new kind of normal.
This is the work of grief.
“Take care with the end as you do with the beginning”
– Lao Tzu
Maureen specializes in perinatal bereavement care and provides additional grief support for the pregnancy loss and baby loss community on Instagram at @postpartumafterloss