“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
― Anne Lamott
It’s Never Too Late to Grieve
For the past month, I’ve been attending a support group at my church called Grief Share. When I decided to attend this group, I immediately felt guilty because I had deemed my grief as “old grief” and felt like I would insult others who had lost someone more recently. My loss occurred in 2012. I lost my grandmother suddenly to a heart attack. She was my world, my rock, my confidant, and like my mother.
When I found out that she had died I literally collapsed, which was almost symbolic of the years to follow because her death led to my world collapsing: personally, professionally, financially, spiritually, and mentally.
Grief affected all areas of my life and tried to kill me (well, I twice tried to kill myself) but I’ve made my way out of the pit and want to offer some wisdom to those who might be grieving whether your grief is old or new. The first thing I want you to know, really know, is that everyone grieves differently and it’s never too late to heal.
Everyone Grieves Differently
I was listening to someone to talk about his grief and he said, at first, the way he was grieving felt wrong. “Wrong is a guilt word,” he said, which led him to think “I can’t even grieve right.”
Don’t buy into the lie that you’re grieving wrong. Your experience is your experience and your loss is YOUR LOSS, no matter if others tell you, “You should be over it by now..” or “Just trust God to strengthen you..” etc.
People are well-meaning, but they will try and force you to get over your grief quickly. Don’t let them. Your way of grieving is as personal as your relationship to the person, so don’t let others dictate how long you can grieve or what healing should look like. However, it is important to remember that some things can help you grieve while others can hinder how you grieve.
Healthy and Unhealthy Ways to Grieve
There are healthy ways to grieve and unhealthy ways to grieve. Sadly, I chose the unhealthy ways because I didn’t know better:
- I drank daily in hopes of numbing my pain
- I attempted suicide–twice! I just didn’t want to live anymore. I wanted to be with my grandma.
- I got involved with drugs (again, in hopes of numbing my pain).
- I used women to try to fill the void in my heart. I didn’t realize it, at the time, but I was using their love and care to avoid dealing with my pain and tried to emotionally replace the love and relationship I had lost.
- I spent and spent and spent even more. I went into a great amount of debt which led to declaring bankruptcy just to get out of my financial mess.
- I walked out on my job and went back to school. I made a huge life change without counsel or consideration and am still feeling the consequences of this. You should never make huge or life-changing decisions while grieving.
Five years later, I’m learning that there are many healthy ways to express and work through your grief. Here are some suggestions. Again, they are just suggestions because each person grieves differently:
- Attending a support group
- Crying, talking, sharing
- accepting that healing is a process
- exercising regularly
- eating healthy
- getting the proper amount of rest and sleep
- taking a vacation
- allowing yourself to enjoy humor and laugh
- calling a friend and connecting with others
- reminiscing about your loved one
- staying busy, balanced with rest and relaxation
Since my unhealthy ways of grieving don’t include everyone’s choices, here are some unhealthy ways that can hinder your grief process:
- isolating yourself
- overactivity to exhaustion
- focusing on suicide, death, etc.
- neglecting basic needs
- avoiding all reminders of your loved one
- pretending that all is well
- refusing counsel
- destroying current relationships with family and friends
- unforgiveness, bitterness, blaming, or complaining
- oversleeping, overeating, or overspending
Be Willing to Seek Out Support
I would definitely encourage you to find a support group to help you process your grief.
For me, this has been so helpful in my grieving process. I have been able to process, reminisce, and find solace in the comfort offered by others sharing their experiences, emotions, and memories. It has helped me feel connected and supported which is essential in processing grief.
Initially, after Grandma died, I felt isolated and alone. The weeks following the funeral were the worst. I was surrounded by so many people leading up to and during the funeral, but nobody prepares you for the loneliness and crushing pain that hits after people have left and you’re alone with nothing but your grief and hurt for companionship.
Please reach out to others and find support. It’s important that you ask someone for help because nobody can help if they don’t know you want it.
It’s OK to ask for help. We all need it at some point.
Time Does Not Heal All Wounds; It Only Passes
I used to believe the saying, “Time heals all wounds,” but I can’t say that I’ve found this to be true. For me, the passing of time has helped but it’s the perspective that I’ve gained through reflection, journaling, reminiscing, connecting with family, etc; which has helped me heal the most.
Don’t just believe that the passing of time will heal you, it’s what you do with that time that makes all the difference.
You Will Always Miss Your Loved One
I still miss my grandma and always will.
You will always miss your loved one and that’s OK.
“Lost love is still love. It takes a different form, that’s all. You can’t see their smile or bring them food or tousle their hair or move them around a dance floor. But when those senses weaken another heightens. Memory. Memory becomes your partner. You nurture it. You hold it. You dance with it.”
― Mitch Albom
It’s Never Too Late to Heal
In closing, I want to remind you, dear reader, that whether your loss was five days ago, five months ago, five years ago, or even 35 years ago, it is never too late to process your grief and find meaning in your loss. It’s an active process that must be worked because, if you let it remain untouched, unexamined, and unresolved, it will find it’s way into your life and could cause many issues for you. It certainly did for me and I know I’m not the only one.
I hope you’ll consider taking the time and doing the work of examining and processing your grief.
It’s never too late to find healing. I hope you’ll seek it out.
As Jesus Christ once said, “Seek and you will find.”
I hope you will seek to heal because I do believe you will find it.
It’s never too late to heal.
Be well friends,