An Analogy on Grief

Found this comment on reddit years ago. I post it in most threads where I see someone has lost a loved one. Hope it helps you as much as it did me. If you have lost someone dear to you, I hope this is something that you can draw some comfort from.

 

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gorged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”

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About Emily-Jane

I am a middle-aged woman who vows to live each day artfully and with intention. Walking the dog, painting, snapping Instagrams, reading books and writing are my favorite ways to pass the time.

Posted on August 10, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks. Yes, that is lucky, though it sure doesn’t seem so at the time. Thanks for your very wise analogy and thoughtful words.

    • Thank you Diane, although I can’t take credit for writing this analogy, I did want to share it because I thought it was very profound. I’m so glad you found it helpful.

      –Emily

  2. This was beautiful and spot on. Thank you.

  3. And each wave holds all the losses we’ve experienced. The biggest and most recent is the most obvious, but all the little, old, seasoned, moldy and dented ones are in that wave, too.

  4. This is a beautiful post. I have nominated you for a Sunshine Award http://tersiaburger.com/2012/08/26/sunshine-award/

  5. I’ve also likened loss to a scar because the person is never really gone. They will always be a part of your life.

  6. You have caught the essence of grief.

  7. I have never read anything closer to the true defination of grief as this. Thank you. I did lose an adult child. I have said that losing a child is a heartbreak that will never heal. Your post exemplifies grief.

    • I’m so happy you stopped by my blog and that this little passage moved you in some way. I’m so sorry to hear about your son. I will go check out your blog and read his and your story. How absolutely heart wrenching to lose your child. I have five of them and I worry always, no matter how old they are about their safety in this world. My heart truly goes out to you. ((Hugs))

      –Emily

  8. Reblogged this on JUSTICE FOR RAYMOND and commented:

    If you have lost someone near and dear, this explains grief as I have never seen it before.

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