The Art of Patience in the Grieving Process

Quick. Fast. Now. Go. Do. Success. Power.

Instant gratification is an unfortunate American archetype. I feel myself drawn to this alluring proposition constantly even when I have, on more than one occasion, realized it’s self-defeating. I want to get where I am going now, not two hours from now, not two years from now. Right now.

Even as a big proponent of living in the moment, something self-help gurus bellow regularly, I catch myself impatiently chasing after my current challenge at any given time. I want to climb the damn mountain already and move on to the next. But by doing this, I realize, I neglect another alluring alternative: savoring each moment in the process.

In February, on my site Trauma to Art (http://trauma2art.com), the theme was, “Does the grieving process end?” There were a variety of answers but the consensus was “no, it does not.” Generally people felt coping mechanisms improve over time but some sense of loss always remained. Mostly I agree. I can’t imagine a time when a part of me won’t miss my mother.

People also agreed that coping became easier to manage over time. Of course, this depends on how the time was used. I’ve since reflected on my own journey through the grieving process, beginning when I lost my mother five years ago to today when I have the ability to I write about loss. When I reflect on that journey, I see a series of stages: denial, depression, action, and eventually peace.

Peace is a grand word. To clarify, I mean I made peace with the loss and found a way to cope with it.

Now I look back on that journey with fondness and deep appreciation. I am as grateful for the bad times as I am for the good times. Some of the dark moments led me to my greatest self-discoveries. I wouldn’t be so ignorant as to presume that I know what is in store for me in the future. I can be grateful and patient on the way there because I do know I’ll get there. I think Katharine Hepburn said it best, “Not everyone is lucky enough to understand how delicious it is to suffer.”

Lauren Muscarella 2011

Lauren Muscarella

More Articles Written by Lauren

Lauren started the blog Mama Quest (http://mamaquest.org) in May 2010 to share stories of her journey through loss after losing her mother in 2006 at age 20. The blog also serves as an outlet to pass on wisdom she received from her mother, who died of breast cancer at 52. After an overwhelmingly positive response to the blog, she launched Trauma to Art (http://trauma2art.com), a movement to support and facilitate creative expression from those who have experienced loss. Now Lauren works to build the Trauma to Art community while writing a book of creative arts therapy activities for confronting grief as well as preserving the memory of lost loved ones. In her spare time, Lauren enjoys volunteering, traveling, wine tasting, and learning to speak French.

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  • Shirley Wiles-Dickinson says:

    Lauren,
    Reading this, gives me hope. Hope that some day, I too, can make peace with the loss of my sister. Thank you for sharing.

  • Lauren Muscarella says:

    Hi Shirley, Thank you so much for your comment. Much love, Lauren

  • Debra says:

    Lauren,

    I agree with you totally that we live in a -right now- society.

    Being a military Mom, I can hardly comprehend having to wait months for a letter to come from over seas as my Grandmother did back in the day when my Dad was in the military. When my son was stationed in Iraq, I was blessed with email contact with him and an occasional phone call !!!! That would have been unheard of in the 1950’s. 🙂

    Each journey of grief is so unique. I lost my Dad in Nov of 2009 and then my Mom in Feb of 2002. My Dad had suffered months in a nursing home after a serious fall. His mind was intact, but his body would not function. His passing was a blessing in a way. My Mom was at the Veteran’s office doing the last of my Dad’s VA paper work when she caught her foot and fell. She had a brain injury and 2 brain surgeries. It’s taken me this past year to come to terms with her death. I have a peace now that I did not back in Feb of 2010.

    I also have a dear friend who lost her 20 year old son to a self inflicted gun shot. There is a HUGE difference in the grief of my friend and the grief I have for the passing of my elderly parents.

    There is NO time table, it’s very personal.

    Thank you for sharing your story and offering hope to others.

  • Deb says:

    I made an error in the date of my Mom’s death…. She passed in Feb of 2010. Just a little over 3 months after my Dad.

  • Lauren Muscarella says:

    Hi Debra, Thank you so much for sharing your story. I completely agree and always try to remind people that everyone has a unique story to tell. I learn so much from other people who have experienced loss because everyone has a unique perspective to offer. It is nice when we can come together collectively to share our thoughts.

    Much love,
    Lauren

  • maria williams says:

    my mother died suddenly on Tuesday morning, of this week, actually yesterday and I m having trouble coping with it…..I dont know what to do!!!!!

  • Lauren Muscarella says:

    Hello Maria, I sent you an email. Finding the Open to Hope community is a great first step. Please feel free to email, or reach out to me in any way.

    Much love,
    Lauren

  • Angela says:

    Reading this site has helped me in the early stages of grieving. My dad died from end stage vascular dementia this month and though a blessing is still hard to believe but because of the dementia some of the grieving has been done it is the grieving for the physical presence that I am now going through. As stated everyone deals with this in their own way. Taking each day as it comes and letting nature take its course is mine.

  • Lauren Muscarella says:

    Hi Angela,

    That’s great. I’m glad to hear Open to Hope was helpful. And thank you for sharing your story with us here. 🙂

    Much love,
    Lauren

  • Amber says:

    Lauren,

    I’m sorry for your loss. I appreciate your willingness to share your journey with us. I found I identified so closely with your stages of grief. I didn’t have the usual 5 or 7 that is so frequently cited in books.

    I do believe that this will be a life long journey of growth; however, I am looking forward to the journey which is something that I couldn’t of said a year ago.

    I have found peace since my son’s death and even found blessings in his passings. I do not mean that I am grateful that my son died; however, I am grateful that my son and I had end of a life decision discussion before his death at age 11 and I knew with certainity that he would choose to be an organ donor.

    After my son died “playing” the Choking Game with a friend, I did an interview on the news to inform people of the dangers of this activity and learned of people of were doing it and have since stopped. My son’s death touched many people and brought me and my immediate family even closer together.

    I’m sorry for the long post, I just really wanted to tell you how much your writing moved me.

    Have a blessed day,
    Amber, Adam’s Mommy Forever

  • Lauren Muscarella says:

    Amber, Thank you so much for sharing your story. Do not worry about the length at all. Open to Hope encourages people to share their thoughts. We all learn from each other.

    Much love,
    Lauren