There is no instruction manual for grief and there’s no predictable path. What I know in my bones, is this: Loss is a part of every single life. And grief is a natural and healthy response to loss. What that looks like will be different for each of us, because loss comes in many forms and because we’re all different.
You have most likely found this page because you are trying to make sense of a new life after loss, or you are supporting someone in a time of grief. Either way, I’m sorry you have need to be here. I’m also glad you’ve found this place, in the hope that you might find comfort in the resources here and feel less alone.
There is no one remedy for illness, distress, pain, loss or heartbreak. I believe it’s a combo package of two seemingly contradictory things:
- learning to hold your own self — the work of knowing and loving yourself absent other people’s feedback; and
- being seen and held by others — the growth and depth that comes from intimate connection with others.
It’s both/and. In different quantities for everyone.
Grief is lonely. It’s often isolating — either we remove ourselves from our support circles, or others shy away from being around us for all kinds of reasons that have to do with them.
On top of that, there are aspects to loss that are ours alone.
Only we can go through the surgery or sit in the widow’s seat at the funeral or sift through the ashes, and no one will experience the loss the same way we will. (Despite those who say, “I know how you feel,” or “This one time, I went through something similar….”)
My promise is to give you the space to have your own experience of your grief. The resources, writings and validation you find here are meant to meet you like a friend.
There is no fixing or suggesting you should be other than you are. If you are supporting someone in grief, this is a hard — and essential — element of showing your love.
How To Use This Site
The early days (which can be months) after loss are a uniquely disorienting and other-wordly time. This is not a time of doing deep work or making meaning. This is a time of survival.
The days can be surreal — memory and cognition are often impaired. We can have a whole host of odd symptoms. Some days you put on mascara, other days you don’t get out of bed.
It may be helpful to look through this list of Unexpected Symptoms of Grief. Knowing that there’s nothing out the range of “normal” can help us not add even more anxiety onto our pain.
There’s a whole page on this site dedicated to The Early Days.
When we are a little further down the grief path — this may be months or years of calendar time — the focus shifts from surviving to acknowledging other aspects of life and thinking about the future. You may still be trying to make sense of this new life, you may feel a desire to start putting pieces together.
The opportunity here is to ask:
Who was I before this loss?
Who am I now as a result?
Grief is a learning process.
We have to gather — re-collect — the pieces of ourselves and create a new identity.
In my Underworld travels, I talked and cried about my losses until I couldn’t talk or cry anymore. Yet there was still something I hadn’t accessed, a place in me that I longed to touch.
I committed to exercise (group fitness classes, strangely), and that helped my depression.
I continued therapy, which was probably a literal life-saver.
I journaled multiple times a day — this was incredibly therapeutic for me.
And still…. This place I couldn’t reach.
Something in my gut told me to get out of my thinking brain and access my feeling brain.
That’s when I set my skepticism aside and started to explore interacting with my grief creatively.
What does that mean? Sometimes it means collage, sometimes it’s a writing exercise, other times it’s a metaphor.
And what I found was a treasure trove. I met parts of myself that I’d buried. Insight and connections came to me without struggle. I was able to breathe easier than I had in over a year.
This is not to say that stepping toward my grief in this way was easy or comfortable. No. There were often tears, but they were different than the tears of anguish and separation from myself.. They were the tears of a river running through me.
Working outside of the box of our usual grief paradigm helped me bring many ostracized parts of myself back home. I was still living with loss, but I felt more fortified and steady as I faced what came.
This is a possibility I want to offer to you, too.