The defining features of the Closing LifeStage of Caregiving are change, loss, grief and grieving, rebuilding, and renewal.
We don’t really understand the experience of grief and grieving until we, well, experience it. Once you experience a significant loss, you never forget what grieving feels like. This can actually result in empathy or greater empathy for others who are experiencing a loss. Because grieving can be intense or at least have moments of intensity, embodying all parts of ourselves: the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual, it is often difficult to describe to others. Daily functioning can be difficult which is why the support and assistance from others is so valuable. This is why our freezers can be full of casseroles as our network of supporters recognizes the challenge of basic daily activities.
Because grief and grieving is so difficult to explain, people are often drawn to the world of analogies and metaphors to describe how they are feeling. Whether you know the difference between an analogy and a metaphor is irrelevant - this isn’t an English lesson! You do know how grief and grieving feels. It can be consoling to know that others have felt how you have felt (or are feeling), and to know that others understand the depth of your feelings. Can you relate to any of the following examples?
“Grief is a tidal wave that over takes you,
Smashes down upon you with unimaginable force,
Sweeps you up into its darkness,
Where you tumble and crash against unidentifiable surfaces,
Only to be thrown out on an unknown beach, bruised, reshaped…
“these tears are a beautiful waltz, but I am so tired of dancing
“Grief makes one hour ten.”
“Grief is…standing in a room full of people and feeling completely alone in the world.”
“Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything.”
“Deep grief sometimes is almost like a specific location, a coordinate on a map of time. “
“Grief is a most peculiar thing; we’re so helpless in the face of it. It’s like a window that will simply open of its own accord. The room grows cold, and we can do nothing but shiver. But it opens a little less each time, and a little less; and one day we wonder what has become of it.”
“There is an ocean of silence between us… and I am drowning in it.”
“Sometimes, only one person is missing, and the whole world seems depopulated.”
-Alphonse de Lamartine
“Grief creates its own weather. At times, it’s an avalanche that buries us, or a thunderstorm that buffets us around. It’s a cold rain that drips off trees and down our backs long after the storm is gone. It’s a fog that hides the world and makes every sound seem distant.”
Hope and Renewal: Life After Loss?
“Grief is a funny thing because you don't have to carry it with you for the rest of your life. After a bit you set it down by the roadside and walk on and leave it resting there.”
-Rosamunde Pilcher, September
“The better we grieve, the better we live”
“The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.”
“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”
“Ain’t no shame in holding on to grief…as long as you make room for other things too.”
-“Bubbles”, The Wire
“Although the world is full of suffering, it is full also of the overcoming of it.”
“Grief never ends…but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…It is the price of love.”
Caregivers, what does grief and grieving look like for you? What gives you hope?