We don’t really know what grief and grieving feels like until we, well, feel it. I thought I knew and then my Dad died. And once we experience a significant loss like that of a parent, we never forget what it felt like.
It can be really hard to describe grieving. It embodies all parts of ourselves: the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. When we are in the throes of grief, it can be difficult to do basic daily tasks. Isn’t this why our freezers can be full of casseroles as our network of supporters recognize this difficulty?
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! 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. And just as important is knowing that life indeed goes on. There is life after loss.
Grief: metaphors and analogies
“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.
“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.”
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.”
My favourite thinker and writer about grieving matters is Stephen Jenkinson. “Grief”, he states, “is not a feeling it is a capacity. It is not something that disables you, we are not on the receiving end of grief we are on the practising end of grief.”
Do you have a favourite quote, poem, metaphor, analogy about grief and grieving that speaks to you? Please share.