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Grief Survival: Taking the Next Steps

“Maybe I can’t stop the downpour, but I will always join you for a walk in the rain.” – Unknown

“Mama said there’d be days like this; she just didn’t say they’d come in bunches like bananas!” I don’t have any idea who gets the credit for this gem, but I know I’m not smart enough to come up with it on my own! I also know that I’m not the only one who has ever felt like this.
As I am writing this article for the newsletter, it is raining outside. Over the last several weeks, we have had more rainy days than sunny ones. Tropical storms are now being named; some will fizzle out, others will ramp up, sending more rain our way. The dogs are a muddy mess after their backyard frolics, and there have been a few times that my house looks like it has a moat around it. I don’t mind rainy days in general, but do they have to come in bunches like bananas?

Also, as I am writing, we are in the midst of a pandemic. I never dreamed that I’d be living in a pandemic, complete with quarantines, physical distancing, face masked ensembles, shutdowns of restaurants and stores, and COVID-19 cases and deaths occurring exponentially each day….and that’s just some of what I’m experiencing in it. Other people are experiencing so much more than I’ve had to face in these last weeks. The pandemic has created quite a different kind of storm in our lives, hasn’t it? When all of this started, I had no idea that our pandemic days would come in bunches like bananas.
I am also very aware that I am writing this article for our bereavement newsletter. I am writing for those who have experienced a significant loss in life, whose days are so very different now than they were before the death of a spouse, a child, a friend, or whoever is being missed so terribly today. Grief hits us like a great big emotional storm that, at times, never seems to end. Who knew that our days of bereavement, of the time spent living with our loss, would come in bunches like bananas?

So, how do we live with these storms in our lives? How do we maneuver through these days that have hit us in bunches like bananas, one right after the other, forcing us to deal with life in ways that aren’t of our choosing? These stormy days certainly have the power to fill us with ever-changing moods, nervousness, anxiety, worry, sadness…and the list goes on for each of us in our individual experiences. Storms are disruptive and threatening and give us a sense of loss of control. We know that those storms that bring rain and wind will calm down eventually, and the sun will shine again. The storm we face in the COVID-19 pandemic will also calm down, as experts dealing with it every day are learning more about it and are striving to get life back on track for everyone. But what about that storm that grief brings into our lives? That can be a very lonely storm, a messy storm, the storm that never seems to end.

Grief is a storm that you will carry around inside you for as long as you live. It’s not something to be fixed by a particular point in time when you follow all the proper stages. Oh, if it were only that easy! Sure, the expressions of your grief, the tears, the anger, the sleeplessness, whatever you may experience, may subside over time. Even those days of deep sadness or the feeling of not being able to put one foot in front of the other to go through the motions will get better in time. Your grief over your loss, however, will always be a part of you. You are a changed person because of your loss. Of course, you don’t have to deal with it, if that’s your choice, but I’ve not seen that option really work. Grief is certainly something that can be covered up on the outside but still has the ability to tear us up on the inside. The storm of grief emotions can continue to rage unless we make peace with our loss and learn how to let it become a part of our daily lives healthily. Be kind to yourself, give yourself a break as you learn how to move through your grief in order to discover new purpose and meaning in life and the new relationship with your loved one. Remember that, even though you are on your individual grief path, everyone else is also walking their own grief path. Maybe, just maybe, if we take the time to share our experiences, the ones we enjoy as well as those that bring pain, we can learn from one another.

Somewhere along the way, I have learned something about storms that helps me get through them. I’ve come to realize that sometimes the storm around me is calmed, but sometimes I am calmed in the midst of the storm. The rain and the pandemic will, in time, calm around me. My grief journey is me being calmed in the midst of the storm. It’s easy and difficult and complicated and fulfilling and hopeful, all at the same time.

It’s comforting to know that there are others who know the pain of grief and welcome the opportunity to be a part of it together.

Don’t forget that, here at Hospice & Community Care, we want you to know you are not alone. Give us a call if you’d like to share your story with us. We can get through this together!

Who knows, those days that come in bunches like bananas may, in time, come to be days we look forward to with love and laughter and peace!

Lee Ann Livingston
Spiritual Care Provider

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