When Grief Moves In
Grief shows up when a loved one dies. Grief brings a wave of notifications—texts, calls, Facebook prayers, and cards. Grief invites friends and family—both close and distant to your house. Your house may not be prepared for guests, but grief does not consider that. Grief brings casseroles, fried chicken, and pound cake. Most household duties halt for grief, at first. Grief needs a new dress. Grief requires the decision making detail of wedding planning in a two day span with little sleep or brain power. Which songs, flowers, and music? Grief requires greeting people. At this point, grief smells like damp Kleenex, a myriad of transferred perfumes, and Easter Lilies.
Grief begs for a nap and a shower. You emerge from a rest and realize all of grief’s visitors have gone home. The refrigerator is full of old casseroles, the living room is scattered with crunchy flowers in brownish-green water, and grief is still there. You run an errand to the post office and pass other people who are living their lives as if nothing is different. Everything is different at home. Your loved one has died, and you have a demanding houseguest. Grief cannot be sustainably ignored.
When left to it’s own devices, grief can run rampant. Your houseguest likes to watch home movies and play Monday morning quarterback. Grief reminds you of things you did not say, what you did, and what you could have done. Grief wants to go back and save the day. Replays can turn into thinking patterns and beliefs. Grief defaults to feeding fears and anxieties.
When the mourning script ends, life with grief is improvisation. The bills are still due. It is time to reenter a life that you do not recognize and did not prefer. Larry Lambert, LPC states, “You are meant to recover.” You are meant to recover from this loss. Grief must learn to chill while you load the dishwasher. It is time to bring grief into the land of the living. Glennon Doyle states, “Grief is love’s souvenir.” Grief is a houseguest that requires response, management, and attention. Grief is not a stage, a journey, or a destination. Grief occupies the space where your loved one once was. Grief in recovery can look different for everyone; however, being able to be present in life is imperative. You do not have to live in vigil. You can honor a loved one's memory by living.
Jondelyn Catlette, MEd, LPC, NCC
If you are interested in meeting with a counselor about your grief, we’d love to help.