I am getting feedback that my blogs have made some of you laugh out loud, or LOL if you are down with the kids, so I thought I’d balance that out with a more sombre look at the world this week. If you stay with me, there will be light at the end of this particular tunnel (trigger warning grief).
Our beautiful big dog went to the vets and died on Monday night and I had forgotten the pain that grief brings with it. That tugging feeling and the catching myself vacuuming up the fur because I can’t bear the sight of it, and then picking up the fur he shed in the garden because I need to remember the feeling of it.
Then there’s the kids asking questions, and wanting to have a funeral, and saying they feel sad and crying at unexpected times of the day. They are acting out and fighting more than usual because these feelings can’t be contained in their little bodies.
These feelings can’t be contained full stop. Grief is huge, and if you are five, you need help giving it words, expressing the sad without losing yourself in it. You need to find ways to let go and ways to hold on. Grief is still huge if you’re fifty-five and you haven’t found those ways either. The pain is so frightening you feel that if you let it in, it will take over and you’ll never escape it.
Either way, we have to learn to live with it. Elizabeth Kubler Ross researched grief and loss and talks about it in detail through her Five Stages of Grief theory. Useful, but you and I know it’s not that simple and definitely not that neat.
The stages are:
We hope to reach the utopia that is acceptance and being able to carry on with life fully integrated and understanding of our losses and all the precious lessons they taught us. In some ways yes, we can, but I think it’s more like my Dad says:
The pain doesn’t get less it just comes back less often.
The crying that takes your breath away can catch you by surprise, the anger that led me to shout expletives in an empty house when my husband left me, the denial that led us to hold on to an old and tired dog who offered us comfort and was an anchor for our family, are all there. All flowing in and out for the rest of life, not in a pattern but mostly unpredictably.
So, what’s the point? What can we learn from this? How can we incorporate this understanding of grief, these ways to express it into our lives at a time when there is so much loss, it is both numbing and overwhelming?
Here’s what I suggest:
Make something if you’re struggling to find the words… a memory box, paint a pebble, write a poem.
Do something if you need to get the feelings out … walk to the top of a hill and leave a picture of the person you love there or say something to them.
Tell someone … talk, share memories with someone who cares and listens.
And, if you want to focus on how lockdown and this pandemic has impacted you and the losses you have experienced, book a call with me here and we can talk through it all.