Webster defines grief as a deep and poignant distress caused by bereavement. So simple. So easy to accept until it touches our lives.
Grief is all encompassing, all inclusive, unavoidable and deeply painful. But unlike all of the other emotions that the human spirit will meet and carry through life, for some, it is only in solitude that grief can be embraced. It is the one emotion that cannot be shared, because to share would mean inflicting that pain on another.
It has taken me twenty three years to finally understand why solitude is my "safe place to land". It doesn't mean that I don't want to be with those I love, it simply means that some times, I need to be alone to be with Shannon.
The world is afraid of grief. Those who are aching are often told to get on with life, get over it, their feelings make us uncomfortable. We can't face a wound we cannot heal. That helplessness in the face of such agony brings to the surface our own fear of our own vulnerability and frailty.
The truth is, there is no one stronger, less vulnerable, less frail...than the parent who has lost a child. Forever changed. Forever holding on to the memory of a face so beloved, so ingrained in their heart and soul that the present is often lost... less important and easier to forget or organize or pour energy into.
Once you have experienced a profound loss, grief is that warm blanket that you wrap yourself in, protected, isolated, comforted. It becomes a part of living. With time, it ceases to hold you captive because it has become familiar, less frightening.
If there is someone in your life who is discovering the truth and complexity of grief, be gentle. You cannot fix it. You cannot expect them to ever return to who they were before. See them. See that from a heart that is broken, a new light will find its way through the cracks ... in time. Never be afraid to say their child's name. We are never without our child, we hold them forever in our heart and in our thoughts and when you are open and honest and willing to walk through memories with them, it is a gift beyond words.
Some days, regardless of how long it has been, the wound of loss opens and we need to feel it. We need to respect the ache and acknowledge that within the embrace of grief, we find love and hope and promise.
It is only after we revisit the pain, trust in the wound that left the scar, appreciate the light that illuminates the shadow, that we can breathe and smile and remember the life that brought us to where we are. Grief and Love go hand in hand. I know that I will always have both.
"It's about love, that's it, that's all." SAB