“I didn’t see it coming. It hit me right between the eyes, and left me staggering and trying to stay conscious, focused, and standing. The shock was paralyzing. Just two weeks after my husband’s visit to his doctor we were given the diagnosis of stage four cancer. My thoughts raged against the obvious irrationality of such a truth.
He was only forty-eight. We have children yet to raise. We have a twentieth anniversary cruise booked. Oh my God, I can’t breathe! I can’t live without him. There must be a mistake. It happens all the time, doesn’t it? I have to be strong. I can barely stand, let alone stand tall. But he is my person! How will I . . .”
One person answers this question with “How high is up?”, another says “It is finished when it is finished.” The reality is when experiencing the loss of a significant family member or friend, our time of grieving will last longer than most of us expect.
The first few months may be particularly intense. The first year is difficult, especially the first Christmas or Hanukkah, the first birthday, anniversary. All are difficult days and we need to anticipate them and be kind to ourselves. The second year for some is a lonely and stark realization that life without their loved one is now a cold, harsh reality. John Donne writes “He who has no time to mourn, has no time to mend.”
You either do the work of grieving or you don’t. Unprocessed grief can bury vulnerabilities emotionally, relationally and psychologically. Healing begins with the courage to lean into the pain in order to mend. Processing with a safe grief counsellor is a gift you can give yourself like no other. You are important! Treat yourself like it is true.
“Sharing my intimate story with a compassionate grief counsellor is one of the most courageous and rewarding experiences of my life. It not only brought healing but a new strength that is difficult to articulate.”