Grief – An act of love

On the 2nd August 2020, my life as I knew it and I changed forever.  My mum died, my only living parent as my dad died 10 years prior.

We all know at the back of our minds that our parents will die but nothing prepares you for when they really do die.  As silly as it sounds, I comforted myself by telling myself that my mum will die in her 80’s.  My mum died suddenly at the age of 63 years old, after a very brief hospital stay due to covid-19 complications.

To say the grief process has been difficult does not begin to scrape the surface of how hard grief really is and has been for me and many others in the world, especially given the current circumstances.  I have realized through my experience that grief will forever be my lifelong journey given that I will forever love my mum. This is a shift in thought for me as I was previously of the opinion that grief could be worked through in a certain amount of time, granted that this amount of time is different for everyone.

Grief is not a linear process.  There are days where it seems as if you can cope with it.  It is always there but on some days it feels manageable.  This tricks you into thinking you are okay.  Then out of nowhere, with a bang, it all comes rushing back.  Knowing this helps ease the process of recognizing that this is all a normal part of grief. 

If I wrote this piece a few months ago, I imagine that it would be a different version and more focused on grief and less on love.  My version today is focused more on a balance of grief and love.  Many quotes speak about grief being an act of love.

Jamie Anderson states

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.”

So, the essence of grief is love.  If there was no love there would be no grief.  As we go on our grief journey, it seems that what’s needed is to balance the grief – the hard raw emotions with acts of love.  Love for your deceased loved one, love for yourself, and love for your other loved ones that are still alive with you. Early on in the grief process, there seems to be more signs of raw grief however as the months or even years progress there seems to be a transformation from raw grief to love.  We need to start to honor our deceased loved ones by becoming the best version of ourselves and by living a life and being the person they and you are proud of.  The biggest shift seems to be realizing that they are gone but our love for them and their love for us lives on and we can continue to live life in a way that honors that love.

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I have heard many clients speak to me about wanting to stay in their grief and not wanting to attend to normal daily life responsibilities’.  I experienced this first-hand.  This is a normal, understandable reaction.  Life moves on, however, even though we are not ready or want to fully integrate into life again.  I would like to encourage you to trust yourself and to trust life.  If we sit in our grief for too long we get too comfortable being there and struggle to move out of this space.  If we focus on life responsibilities and ignore our grief, this is also not useful.  Find a balance that works for you to balance these two out.  Don’t feel bad for doing too much of either, a balance does not mean equal.  Some days or moments we want to sit in our grief.  On other days, we want to just feel normal again and put the grief to the back of our minds.  There is no script for grief.  Do what works for you in the moment.

In closing, if you are going through a grief process right now, take care of yourself more now than you ever have before because grief is especially hard work and taxing on the mind and body.

Written by Counselling Psychologist, Shenila Maharaj.

In dedication of my mum, Mrs. H. Persaram.  Forever in my heart you still stay.