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
I have lost my beloved wife of 41 years. Kim was only 59 years old when she passed on June 7rh 2022. We have 3 adult children and 4 grandchildren. I love and miss Kim every second of everyday. I really hurts so bad I can almost not figure a way to go on.