On the way to the store the other day, we saw an SUV with a large decal that obstructed the back window with angel wings and a name inscribed with a date of birth and death. The baby being referenced lived for only two days in 2008 and was still memorialized by the driver 5 years later. It made us think about the many faces of grief and why grief is important.
How we grieve and when the grief begins to let go so we can continue with our lives is such a uniquely individual and personal process for each of us and without a timetable. When we lose someone or something we love or care about deeply, our bearings are often knocked off kilter and we enter a journey with no road map to guide us. And the more significant the loss, the more intense will be the grief experienced.
Since loss is a part of daily living, you could say we are in constant stages of grief with some more significant than others.Losing your keys does not count no matter how frustrating and temporarily painful it may feel. But losing a job could spell financial disaster and grieving this loss may be appropriate for a short period of time until the shock wears off: very often the need for action such as finding another job, cutting back on spending, applying for unemployment and many other strategies to keep body and soul together usually takes over. Getting a divorce, however, is obviously much higher on the grief scale and may bring on a deadening aspect to our lives until there is some resolution and life seems more promising again. And losing a beloved person in your life such as a spouse, child, sibling or close friend is often so extremely difficult and disrupting to everything that we hold sacred that we cannot fathom how we will ever get over it.
The many faces of grief are played out all around us. From the death of a loved one to retiring from a much loved career or losing a close friendship, we all bear the heaviness of grief and often witness it in others. Think about when you see a funeral procession holding you up at a busy intersection so all the cars can make their way to the cemetery; does that pause in your daily flow make you ponder the loss you are seeing displayed before you or do you think how lucky you are to still be on this earth, delay or no delay?
There is no right or wrong way to grieve, there is no “normal”, only the most personal emotional journey that usually cannot be explained with words or expression. It simply becomes an immediate part of your life that supersedes everything else at that particular juncture on your earthly journey. What shapes your response to loss and how you grieve is where you are in life at that point. Your life experiences, culture, spiritual belief and support system are also significant factors in how you respond to your loss. Sometimes grief simply walks besides you for a very long time, like the driver of that SUV whose grief we felt and reflected upon throughout the day.
(Image from mcglasson.areavoices.com)