The Ebb and Flow of Grief

For moments, hours, days, or weeks we can move along with the flow of life – aware, always aware of our loss, but walking the path of life alongside it. When you are in a ‘flow’ cycle, living with grief becomes very similar to walking down a twilight, midsummer sidewalk holding hands with the love of your life.

Then something – anything – or nothing — happens, and in a heartbeat, the missing pushes everything else aside and sweeps you completely out of the flow and into a secluded, eddying pool. It’s the ebb and flow of grief.

The darkness in these isolated tidal pools can be almost complete. The physical absence of the bodies, the voices, the scents, the personalities of the loved ones who have moved on feels like a void of loneliness engulfing you.

A Gift of Wisdom

I was gifted a snippet of wisdom from an unexpected source before Christmas last year. I was suffering within a time of ebbing and sat to watch a Christmas movie, “A Boy Called Christmas”. It was a sweet movie that added tender tears to the bereft ones already flowing.

The ‘wise old soul’ character of the movie supplied these words, “Grief is the price we pay for love, and worth it a million times over.” It was as though that quirky old woman was speaking directly to me. Those words shone through the gloom of my loneliness and opened it up. The heaviness dissipated.

We are all very familiar with Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s stages of grief and understand that it is not a “start here – finish there” process. The grief journey is a life-long, serpentine trek, where we find ourselves shifting back and forth between the various phases in a seemingly willy-nilly fashion.

Capacity to Handle Loss

But we forget that the capacity of our minds is truly stunning. The phases of grief all serve a purpose, and our minds know what we need better than we do (and often don’t bother with the courtesy of letting us in on the secret).

That wise little quote, “Grief is the price we pay for love, and worth it a million times over”, is apparently taken from something often said by Queen Elizabeth. It came from a longer quote from the book, “Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life” by Colin Murray Parkes and Holly E. Prigerson.

The full quote is “The pain of grief is just as much part of life as the joy of love: it is perhaps the price we pay for love, the cost of commitment. To ignore this fact, or to pretend that it is not so, is to put on emotional blinkers which leave us unprepared for the losses that will inevitably occur in our lives.”

What an insightful statement. For me, though, the way Aunt Ruth said it in “A Boy Named Christmas”, is a perfect little motto and has changed the way I view and respond to the ebbing phases of my grief.

The Ebb and Flow of Missing

When something – anything – or nothing blows me out of life’s flow and into the ebb of missing, I wade into the pool with reverence. I let the dimness that is no longer an oppressive darkness surround me like the welcoming embrace of a treasured sanctuary. I respect that my mind is telling me that I need to slow down for a beat, surround myself with treasured memories, review the precious old text messages, watch the video we were blessed to receive and just spend some time acknowledging the missing.

In accepting the ache and in bring to mind each of the things that I miss so much – I know that I am honoring the price that I pay gladly for the privilege of experiencing a great love for such amazing people.

Visit Colleen’s website: Getting Through Grief | Blazing Trails

Read more on the topic: Grief Leads to Self-Discovery – Open to Hope

Colleen Friesen

Who is Colleen Friesen? I am a proud mother, a blessed wife, a blossoming daughter, a compassionate and supportive sister and friend. I have the peace-loving, inclusive heart of a hippie which serves me well in my role as Associate Director of Human Resources at the Community-based non-profit agency that employs me. I am a prairie girl who harbours a love-hate relationship with the climate of the glorious Saskatchewan prairie that is my home. I have loved to use words to lead others along with me through my experiences – both real and imagined throughout my life. I consider myself a word crafter – sometimes choosing to paint, other times sketch, oftentimes sculpt, frequently clip/paste/gluing words and phrases together in such a way that will draw my reader into a soul-synergy with me. It is my hope that I can draw people close, so they are able to experience the reassurances, comforts, and freedoms I have found for myself. I have survived devastating losses; I have healed crushing psychological injuries and I live… I LIVE. I live a life filled with joy, love, peace, and presence. I am enjoying the benefits of years of learning, growing, forgiving, loving, and observing. It is my natural compassion and gift of observation that has led me to yearn to bring those who are suffering to the oasis of Truths that sustains me within this world of challenging experiences. The passing of my eldest son almost 2 ½ years ago coalesced my passions for writing and helping into a focused purpose. My greatest accomplishment has been parenting my sons. Both boys are beautiful souls; loving, kind, compassionate individuals who have blessed the lives of those they touch. That was not an accident nor was it easy, but it has been the most rewarding and fulfilling purpose of my life. When my first-born left this dimension, it became imperative for me to carry his beautiful spirit onward. So, now I craft words with his guidance to bring love, hope and comfort to those who grieve.

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