Consider this. If we didn’t love, we wouldn’t grieve. Your grief is a sign of your love. Your love didn’t die when your loved one’s body died. Love endures. The evidence of the survival of love is grief. Be grateful for the love that continues even though that love means you are now in pain.
Love is a Gamble
I have a pair of sneakers with a graphic saying “Love is a gamble.” I bought them years ago. I had no idea of the depth of meaning of that phrase until Shayna passed. My love for her was a tremendous gamble. Grief is the price we pay for love.
The more we love, the more crippling the pain can be. This doesn’t mean if you love someone tremendously, you will never be able to get “over” the grief. It doesn’t mean the longer you’re unable to function after their death, the more you loved them. You can and will learn to cope with the pain. Your love for them, and knowing they still love you and want the best for you, can help pull you out of those darkest days. You continue for them, as well as for yourself.
Grief is Not Terminal
Grief feels like it will never end. Almost four years in, I don’t think my grief will ever end. And, I’m OK with that. If grief is defined as missing them and wanting themback with us, for most of us, it will never end. Grief may lessen. It will lessen if you let it. Grief is like a chronic, incurable illness. It’s not terminal. It will feel that way at times. You will learn to live with it.
When someone dies, for the survivor, serotonin levels dip to levels that make it difficult to function. The body may go into shock. During the grieving process, the brain uses serotonin faster than the body can make it. We are physically impacted as well as emotionally.
With low serotonin levels, our sleep is off. We may sleep too much. Maybe we can’t sleep at all. Concentration and attention are difficult. We misplace things. We lose physical energy. Sexual interest may drop. We may eat too much or not enough. Interest in social interaction may wane causing us to isolate ourselves. Solitude can be a good thing. It gives us time to process. However, too much isolation may lead to loneliness which can exacerbate grief.
Grief is Natural
Is grief a natural state? I think at the heart of grief is the belief, conscious or subconscious, that this is the end. I go back to the example of a loved one on a long trip. We miss them; we don’t grieve them. That’s because we have a virtual certainty they will return.
Faith can undoubtedly help with grief. But, even the most devout people have some amount of doubt. At least a part of us believes we will never see our loved one again. A part of us tells us they are gone. They have disappeared from existence. As much as we might hope for the existence of heaven, we don’t know for sure. Even given signs or even after death communications via a medium, dream visits, or some other vehicle, we still have some skepticism. The greater the doubt, the more intense and consuming the grief.
Veil Between Life and Death
Emmanuel Swedenborg, an 18th-century mystic, theologian and Renaissance man had special revelations from angels and spirits throughout the last few decades of his life. He said it was revealed to him there was a time in man’s history where we conversed freely with spirits, including the souls of departed loved ones. The veil between here and there was very thin.
As we “evolved,” we have evolved to a state where the veil has grown increasingly thick because modern humans do a lot more thinking than feeling. I believe the veil between us and those who have gone before has become so thick that we, as a species, have completely forgotten who we are. This state leads us to grieve in ways that I don’t believe was intended for us.
This is excerpted from Brian Smith’s book, Grief 2 Growth: Planted, Not Buried. How to Survive and Thrive After Life’s Greatest Challenges – Kindle edition by Smith, Brian D. Health, Fitness & Dieting Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.
Read more by Brian Smith on Open to Hope: Crisis is a Chance to Address the Big Questions in Life – Open to Hope