Sweet Grief

In the early days after the loss of a child, we may try to anesthetize ourselves to the experience to some degree. We can't or we choose not to feel the full impact of this unbearable loss. We are overwhelmed with grief. The tendency is to just 'get through it'. It's a survival mechanism. But all the residual pain we prevent ourselves from feeling is still inside us, waiting, and there it will stay until we are strong enough to face it. Our emotions aren't ethereal sentiments. They are real substances that move through our bodies and affect us in both positive and negative ways. Ultimately, we have to be able to feel it before we can heal it. 

Our child has died. It is there, at the very core of our loss, where healing is most needed. It is there where we feel the most pain. And it is there where we lay the foundation for eventually healing our hearts. Some say this process takes a year, at least. For me, it lasted a great deal longer. 

In my own grieving process, writing helped me to stay present with the grief. Day after day, I carried my grief like a newborn, holding it, feeling it, looking into its face, tending to what felt like a new member of my family. I once heard someone refer to the grief you feel when you lose a child as 'sweet grief'. Certainly it didn't feel sweet for a very long time, but eventually I began to understand. Sweet grief; because the grief you feel is a living, breathing connection to your child. Sweet grief; because grief, like love, is a powerful, very human emotion. Because you love deeply, you grieve deeply. Sweet grief; because the grief that you carry in your heart will never be greater than your love.

Grief is not a linear process. You don't walk through grief as much as you learn to walk with it. It's full of starts and stops, ups and downs, gains and losses. And just when you think you understand what this grief is, it changes and you find yourself in a strange land once more. Be patient, be present. Your grief will unfold from within. One day your child will once again be a blessed presence in your life.

Do your work. Heal your heart.


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