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The Art of Sitting with Grief

Updated: 5 hours ago

How long does grief last?

Experiencing the loss of a loved one is an unavoidable part of life. In these moments of life, grief inevitably shows up and demands to be felt. We can often be left feeling lost, overwhelmed, alone and in pain.

Grief does not have a timeline.

Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross introduced the concept of the 5 stages of grief which include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These stages may help us to name what we are feeling or help describe our experiences but they were never meant to be a step-by-step process of how to get through grief.

Grieving in an individualised process as there are some stages that certain people may never experience and other stages that certain people may feel stuck in. This is not a process that can be rushed or measured in time as it does not move in a linear fashion.

Factors that shape our grief.

Several factors play a pivotal role in shaping the duration and intensity of our grief. Recognizing and understanding these factors can be crucial as they can help us navigate the grieving process with greater compassion and patience. Elements such as the how and when our loved one passed, our relationship with them, the support systems we have in place and our capacity to use coping strategies are just some of the key influences affecting our experiences with grief.

Another view of grief.

This is an explanation of grief from the creator of The Jar of Salt. I couldn't have said this any better so I left it in their words.

“Imagine that you are this bookshelf and grief were this thick, heavy and permanent book sitting in it. Over time, that book doesn’t change in shape or size. It just stays there and becomes a part of you. As the days and years pass, your library grows around it as everything you add to the shelf becomes another chapter and dimension in your life. The grief, even if you choose to gloss over it, is an indelible presence juxtaposed with the growing collection of things. The spine might fade in the sunlight, yellowing pages will fall out, and its cover will definitely gather dust, but our grief is a book whose pages we can flip through and go back to when we feel compelled to. Without changing in weight, significance or meaning, it shall always and simply be another facet of our existence and one of many stories in our constantly changing life.”

My hope is that this analogy provides a perspective that speaks more to how grief is something we move forward in life with, instead of a season that we just need to get through.

One last thought.

While grief is a natural experience in life, and it is okay to take your own time and as much time as you need to feel and heal, it's also okay to reach out for help. Whether that's a friend or a professional. Grief can be a lonely process but you don't need to go through it alone.


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