Perhaps Mary Oliver’s poem The Uses of Sorrow says it best: “Someone I loved once gave me a box full of darkness. It took me years to understand that this too, was a gift.”
Grief is something we all go through at some point in our lives. The frequency, intensity, coping mechanisms, and stories all differ. However, the emotions we experience are the same. Therefore, we are all connected and never alone.
How many people take the time to acknowledge and grieve their loss? How many people avoid the loss? Let’s face it, grief is not a fun process to go through, but as paralyzing as it sounds, it is a necessary one.
The five stages of grief can appear in and out of order and recur at any given moment. Usually, it’s when we least expect it—after all, grieving is not linear. These stages are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Coping with grief is one of the hardest skills to master while carrying on with life—this I know for sure. One day you put grief in your back pocket, forget about it, and before you know it, grief has you in its back pocket. Suddenly, you feel like a wild card that is thrown down and randomly played without warning or permission. The emotions of grief are intense and uncomfortable. However, think of it this way: When a loss first happens, this period is like the start of a race, as if you are standing at the starting line. To move on, you need to run the race. Will you stay at the starting line forever? Or will you start running slowly at your own pace, taking breaks while being gentle with yourself? There is no timeline or clock keeping track during grief because you need to process the pain and learn from your triggers. Everyone is different, and that includes you. Of course, it will be difficult some days, but on others, you will learn so much and go so far.
When people decide not to do anything with their grief, they suppress their emotions, and when emotions are suppressed, they get locked into place. The body and mind respond with illness because it’s the only way out.
Darkness happens for a reason. It’s trying to teach us something about our life, and our job is to find out what that is.
The gifts held within that darkness are the lessons learned. Perhaps this loss made you see life differently and you pay attention to the little things more. You are more self-aware of your own needs and how you want to live your life from this point forward. We may never “get over it,” but we can choose to cope and adapt. We can grow scar tissue. We can choose to be gentle with ourselves and carry on.
They say death happens to teach us about life—it shows us what’s important. If that is true, then perhaps grief is the other side of love—it shows you cared, and that in itself is worth celebrating.