The Gift of Grief

*Reader submission, photo of author*

Grief is one of the most intricate, personal, and profound occurrences that we human beings experience.

It makes no sense, has no direction and takes no prisoners. There really isn’t anything else quite like it. And what makes it even more complex is that every one of us experiences it differently.

What I may do and feel after a loss is most likely completely different to what my neighbor will do and feel, even if they have the same loss. None of this is new information to people, yet somehow, I believe it is commonly forgotten.

I personally have never experienced anything remotely similar in my life up until I found myself completely mauled by the bulldozer of grief after my boyfriend, Drew, died of a heroin overdose in March this year.

The most spectacular part of grief that I just can’t get used to, is that it will find us on every level and every dimension, and eat us alive; but only if we let it. Whether it is emotionally, physically, cognitively, philosophically, socially, or behaviorally, it hits you, and it changes you. The person you were before the event that led to your grief, simply does not exist anymore. Grief is profound in that way. Yes, you can say that we technically we are not the same person we were an hour ago, because maybe we had something to eat, so we aren’t hungry anymore or went outside and the sun darkened our skin.


But to think that we can return to the person we were before this bulldozer hit us?

Don’t be silly. Yes, I have tried. I have tried to pretend that I could go back to my life before I met my boyfriend. I even tried pretending that he didn’t even exist. That lasted for about 45 seconds. The idea of resilience is brought up a lot with grief of any type.

From my own personal experience, most people describe resilience as the ability to “bounce back.”

What exactly are we bouncing back to?

If it is the life we had or the person we were, I think that there will be a lot of disappointment when we find that it is actually impossible.

Part of the intricate process of dealing and confronting grief is finding out how it has affected and changed you. Not only do I grieve Drew; I grieve my life, our life. I grieve our future home, my future husband, and our future children. Because the truth of the matter is, none of this stuff exists anymore and it never will. And I have to learn to live with that. I have to accept that the person I was on March 5th is not the same person I have been since March 6th .

Grief will change you and you must letit.

You must embrace it.

Embrace the good with the bad, the ugly with the beautiful and the horrible with the magnificent.

Grief is personal. We think others will not understand it. You don’t know what it’s like to be me! And we don’t. Saying that we do is a lie. But when you talk to people, like really talk to people, we are all grieving, we are all hurting, we are all struggling. In different ways, yes. In different experiences, yes. But it is happening all around us.

Could you imagine if people were able to express their emotions freely? Without fear of judgment or instability and allow themselves to be completely vulnerable. This is what I am trying to do. Just like most things, especially when it comes to grief, it is a process. I try to take the grief that has come into my life and whatever emotion it manifest’s itself, I welcome it. I try my hardest to allow myself to be vulnerable.

I want to let people see that I am in pain,

I am hurting, I am human.

I want to feel all of the miserable and beautiful things that come with grief, because I do believe both exist. I accept the days that I can’t get out of bed, the days that the hole in my chest feels like it has been filled with sand or water and not only can I not breathe, but I’m drowning, and the days that I want to die. I accept the days where I appreciate the sky or the ocean, the days where my sister or friend makes me laugh so hard I think I am going to pee myself, and the days where I look for comfort in another human being.

This is not as easy as it sounds, because nothing is. I fail. I have set backs. But (luckily) I have a feeling this grief thing is going to stick around for a while. Just when things feel like they are starting to get better or make sense, in the middle of a fun outing with my family I start crying because another wave of everything that I lost comes over me. And I let it happen. I let it happen so in ten years when my life is different than what I thought it was going to be, and who knows, maybe I will even be happy, I don’t sink back into a hole that I never saw coming and I cant find a rope.

I do it because this is yet just another experience in my life and although more traumatic than any other, still an experience that I would like to experience, even in the most uncomfortable forms and the darkest of days.

I believe that you are suffering, because I am suffering, because we are human.

What an amazing gift to be aware of and know that we are all connected.

If we just allow ourselves to be a little bit vulnerable, to share, feel, and express our emotions, we could find ourselves in a very different state of mind from where we were before our grief.

All we have to do is change our perspective and maybe we will find that the tragedies in life can transform us into an exceptional community.

Give yourself that gift.


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Baltimore, Maryland