Living With Grief

Two family members sitting on the edge of the bed consoling each other.

Two family members sitting on the edge of the bed consoling each other.

Just when I think there is no place to put another one, let alone need another one, I am caught off guard with the sight of land being cleared and signage indicating that, yes, coming soon is another storage facility! With each new storage structure, the buildings get bigger and better! Inside storage, outside storage, drive-up storage, and climate-controlled storage are only a few options available when considering solutions for a storage need. While driving in a very remote area, I recently rounded a curve in the road and saw the sign EXTRA STUFF STORAGE at a large storage facility entrance. There’s nothing like getting right to the point, I guess; it gave me a good chuckle!

We all need places to keep our stuff. Junk drawers, storage rooms, attics, and outbuildings in the backyard are the storage places I knew growing up. Today’s large storage facilities take things to a whole new level. We all want our things and treasures kept away in safe places and secure until we can figure it all out. That’s the way it seems to be with our material possessions, and maybe I owe a nod of thanks to those who provide the space which helps us take care of our stuff.

But life isn’t all about our material possessions, contrary to how it seems at times. Life is also about our emotional and spiritual sides, our feelings and beliefs, which give our life meaning in nonmaterial ways. In perspective, it is easier to deal with our material things.

Grief is one of those areas of our emotional and spiritual life. Grief is difficult and time-consuming, painful and unpredictable. Some days I find myself thinking it would be nice if we had a place we could put our grief for safekeeping until we’re ready to deal with it. If only we had a grief storage facility where we could box up our pain and sorrow, our hurt and lost dreams, and memories. A place for us to safely tuck them away until the time is right to deal with them. But grief doesn’t give us that luxury.

We try to control our grief by denying, rationalizing, or participating in behaviors that distract us for a moment. In those times, we want things to be fixed, the pain to go away, for our normal to return. But those are only temporary measures taken to help us with our pain. We seem to be surprised when we think we have it under control, yet a wave of grief hits us and knocks our feet out from under us.

Grief is a constant reminder that life has changed and has changed permanently, no matter how much we wish it hadn’t. That’s a difficult realization but a necessary one if we are to move through our grief, come to a place where we can acknowledge our loss, and discover how to live with our loss.

There are no storage facilities for our grief, no places to store it, to get it out of our way, because grief is a part of us. After the death of a loved one, the whole fabric of our lives is forever changed, and grief takes its place as a permanent companion in our lives. From that point on, everything we see is through a different lens, no matter how hard we try to make it otherwise. Life will never be as it was before the loss that changed everything.

But grief doesn’t have to be something to dread, something to fear. Actually, it is best to see grief as a gift. Grief is the gift of a myriad of feelings to be opened, held, explored, and lived in ways that provide us with a process for living with our loss. Grief helps us reconstruct our view of life, integrate, and embody the absence of our loss. Grief is a gift that keeps on giving, that’s for sure, because it continues to be with us for the rest of our lives. With each loss, that gift becomes more precious, and when we don’t try to pack it away to avoid feeling the pain, we let our tears become cleansing agents to help us better see the gift of our grief and how to befriend it.

Here at Hospice and Community Care, we want you to know that we are here for you. We understand how difficult loss is in life, and we welcome a call from you if there is a way we may help you with your gift of grief. Sometimes we need a listening ear or a supportive shoulder to open the gift of grief and begin to see what unfolds. Will you let us be a part of that journey with you?

Lee Ann Livingston
Spiritual Care Provider

The Hospice & Community Care team has a number of resources available for helping families walk through grief and loss.
Learn more about the support and services available to you.

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