Good grief: reflections on living with loss

My 30th year can be described in one word: grief. I feel that I’m just recently coming out of a grief fog. Grief is one complex little bugger. You think you are doing better and then bam – you step on a grief landmine. After my grandmother died of cancer that had spread to her liver, I heard the lyrics by Miranda Lambert: “I numbed the pain at the expense of my liver”. In the past, I thought that this line was clever. Now, with the knowledge that my grandmother’s liver failed her, I couldn’t turn the radio station fast enough. A grief landmine. A trigger reminding me that a part of my heart is cracked and bruised.

Good grief. What is “good” about grief? Not much. As I reflect back, I did experience some profound gifts during the midst of watching my Grandmother’s body fail her. As an aside, this was the first time that I visited someone in hospital regularly and watched the dying process. I feel that in some ways, it has complicated my grief. Not only do I grieve the sudden death of my grandmother (she felt ill in April. was given 6-12 months to live in May and died less than 1 month later), but there’s also a certain level of trauma attached to watching a loved one die.

Back to “good grief”. The recent lessons in the midst of grief are hard to explain. They are moments that have challenged my heart. How many people get to witness their grandfather say his good-byes to his wife of nearly 64 years? Absolutely heartbreaking and a beautiful reflection of life and love. Even though I choke up just thinking about it, I wouldn’t trade that memory for a million dollars. I will cherish that memory for the rest of my life. How many grandchildren get to feed their grandmother when she’s unable to feed herself? To know that she spoon fed me as a young child and now I’m doing the same for her, there are no words. Not being a touchy feely person, I couldn’t help but give my grandmother a kiss and say, “I love you” before heading for home after a visit. On the last day that I saw her and she was semi-communicative, with all of her strength she whispered back, “I love you too”. These, among many others, are my good in the midst of grief.

Grief is an inevitable part of life. Grief can be a change agent. We are never the same after loss. Sure, often with time we are able to function better. Maybe we go days or weeks without crying or feeling sad. But we can’t escape our grief completely. There are grief landmines everywhere. Reminders that our fragile hearts are not the same as they used to be. I believe that grief is as much a part of the human experience as joy. And sometimes, we find a form of beauty in the ashes. A sliver of good in midst of grief.

30. Good grief! You have outdone yourself.  And yet, I have never felt more like an adult than now. For I have fully entered into grief (instead of avoiding or stuffing it as per my previous track record) and came out wiser. I want to be more giving. More loving. More desiring to seize the day. Whether I like it or not, my grief is part of who I am. And if I ever think that I can forget this fact a grief landmine will remind me.

5 thoughts on “Good grief: reflections on living with loss”

  1. I can say for-sure, 17 years after my mom and sister died in a car accident, there are still grief landminds. They aren’t as common for many reasons including the fact that those songs are rarely played on the radio, but when they do occur, they take me right back to the moment.
    Rather then saying, grief has made me who I am, I like to focus on the fact that they helped shape me into the person I am today and my life experiences living with them in my life, losing them in an instant, and now without them have all played a critical part in my identity.

    Thanks for sharing such a beautiful post.

  2. Very well said. It’s so true how you can just be bouncing along then BAM landmine! Greif is HARD, and I love that you are able to see the good and the not so good outcomes of walking through the grief. I am very sorry for your loss and you’re family is in my prayers. HUGS!

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