Grief Expressed Out Loud

Grief Expressed Out Loud

The writer, Martin Prechtel, has a wonderful quote about grief:

“Grief expressed out loud for someone we have lost, or a country or home we have lost, is in itself the greatest praise we could ever give them. Grief is praise, because it is the natural way love honors what it misses.”

When I think of grief, the image of an arrow piercing through the center of a heart comes to mind. The arrow instantly numbs everything, sending the heart into a state of shock. The reaction may be to pull the arrow out immediately, but it doesn’t budge. The arrow stays in for a period of time and everyone notices. People comment about it and offer condolences to help ease the pain. The heart remains paralyzed.

After some time, the initial shock wears off and the heart begins to soften again. As the heart softens, the arrow loosens. Soon enough, the arrow pulls free from the chest.  Once the arrow is removed, the person has the opportunity to catch their breath, something they haven’t done in weeks, or even months.

No more arrow, no more visible pain. What’s left is a big gaping hole.

This is when the grief work begins.

I recently read a facebook post written by a friend who lost her 10 year old daughter after a long battle with Cystic Fibrosis.  She wrote openly about her feelings and concerns when it comes to talking to others about her daughter. She stated that she doesn’t want to make anyone feel uncomfortable. Most importantly, she wants to convey the large impact her beautiful daughter had on her life.

It is wonderful that my friend was able to express her feelings and grief out loud. This can make a huge impact on people’s lives. The world is hungry for more parents who are willing to speak openly about the loss of a child, including the raw and uncomfortable parts.  She is not alone in her pain. There are many people walking around with gaping holes in their chest. Their grief has not found its voice yet.

One of the biggest and most important legacies that our loved ones leave behind is the grief we feel in our hearts. Grief is praise. We must honor these loved ones by allowing our grief to be expressed out loud. Through this process, a person can find tremendous healing. The gaping hole can be filled again.

We will all grieve and it is imperative that we allow it to be expressed in its many forms. This expression is powerful and creates a ripple effect onto individuals at all stages of their grief.

I once had an arrow pierced through the center of my heart. I also had a gaping hole. Today I unapologetically express my grief and praise for my beautiful loved ones who have gone before me.

To Anyone Grieving This Holiday Season…

To Anyone Grieving This Holiday Season…

christmas-heart-tree-lisa-catherwood

To anyone grieving this Holiday Season:

This December marks seven years since my dear friend and lover passed away. Nothing about that winter felt merry, and I certainly didn’t feel in the “holiday spirit.” My heart was breaking while the rest of the world carried on singing carols and exchanging gifts, putting on their best holiday game face. That whole season was a blur. The mentor at the local grief group suggested “this Christmas will be different and the most important thing is to let it be.” She guided us to do what felt right for each of us in the group. Some felt up for participating in their traditional holiday rounds, while others ordered take-out and stayed in. I’ve learned that both are completely okay.

That year I participated in the family Christmas shindig in a zombie-like state, simply going through the motions. It was simply too much, too soon.

I want to offer anyone who may be grieving the loss of a loved one, the opportunity to take the holiday’s off – if that is what feels right. People around you may not understand, but I support you 100% in your decision. There is simply no right or wrong way to get through this time of year. The most important thing is that you attend to your own needs and emotions first. Instead of gifts, I suggest wrapping yourself in love and compassion.

Truth is, there’s no quick-fix to getting through the season pain-free, but freeing yourself from the season’s hustle and bustle may bring you tremendous peace.

On Christmas Eve I will be at the movies, sipping a glass of wine and snacking on extra buttery popcorn. It may seem unconventional to some, but that’s my Christmas Eve plan. It’s taken me 7 years fast forwarded to embrace that I can spend Christmas however I want.

Christmas isn’t the glowing string of lights or baking the cookies “just right.” It’s a feeling of the heart, a sense of magic and connectedness. Grief may turn our whole world upside down, but it also brings moments of grace. In-between the painstaking ache and the joyous memory of a loved one’s smile, lives an indescribable amount of love that can only be felt with the heart. Love is the most beautiful thing we humans have to offer. If you are grieving, this means you have loved someone until their last breath, and that my friend is the biggest gift you could give all lifetime.

You are the gift, the Christmas miracle.