My friend, Grief

may 25, 2022

My friend, Grief, is someone who has been a part of my life for longer than I ever realized she was…Grief was always just an acquaintance to me. We would run into each other on occasion and have brief interactions, but nothing more. On June 11th, 2018, I became a closer friend with Grief. A moment I will never forget. After this day, I was longing to get to know her in a way many others don’t. I wanted to know her story – who she was, where she comes from, her goals, the different sides of her she shows the world. 

She started simple with a brief introduction… ‘Hi, I’m Grief. I am mental or emotional suffering or distress caused by loss or regret.’ Okay, great, but I still want to know more. I began spending more time with Grief and she slowly began trusting me and opening up to me, just as I did to her. She began sharing more and going deeper about who she is, including the things she does, what she has been through, and about the other friends she had.

As I got to know Grief, I noticed she had a ton of friends – I guess I never realized how popular she really was. Her friends were a lot like me – all a little different, yet so similar at the same time. Her friends would all call themselves a member of “the club”. But not a club like “Pep Club” or “History Club”… it really shouldn’t even be called a club. It’s more like an after-school detention that you must attend every day for the rest of your life, something you didn’t have a choice in joining. We all shared a commonality though, so after meeting Grief’s other friends, I began wanting to talk with and learn more from them, too.

When I would spend time with Grief and her friends, I found a sense of comfort and peace. I realized all of the emotions I felt and the thoughts I was having weren’t crazy at all and was something at least one of them had experienced. Grief and her friend’s stories encouraged me to find the deeper meaning of my loss. Since then, I have continued to find purpose and explore the meaning of this and leaned into Grief and her friends whenever I needed.

My friend, Grief, is one of those forever friends. Not the kind you have to talk to everyday, but when you do it’s like no time has passed. In a few short years, I’ve learned a lot of things from my friendship with Grief and her friends, who eventually became mine as well. One of the first lessons was recognizing that everyone grieves in their own way. What works for you while you are grieving may not work for someone else. And as long as you aren’t hurting yourself or someone else, there really is no “wrong” way to do it.

Another lesson she shared with me was to embrace the present moment and the importance of being in the “here and now”. I learned how to live in the moment we are in and not dwell on the past or expect anything for the future. Live your life with the mindset that you never know what tomorrow may bring, so don’t delay living your life and ensure those you love know how much they mean to you.

Along those lines, Grief also always had a way of reminding me that you must be open to the plans you had for your life to change at any given moment. And even to change in ways you may have never wanted. I always had plans to be married by 23 with kids by 25 and in my lifelong career around the same time. I can tell you that at 26, none of these milestones have been met, but I’m starting to feel like I’m finally on my way. But with this lesson my friend, Grief, taught me, I know it’s okay if my wants, needs, and plans change again because as we experience life, we change, too. And maybe in that moment, that wasn’t what we thought we wanted, but we realize it was what we needed and where we are supposed to be. 

Grief also showed me the importance of having a will and having uncomfortable discussions about your wishes for after your time here. This was a tough pill to swallow and Grief shared it is for a lot of people. She told me many people don’t like to talk about these things because people struggle with accepting they may die someday. I get it, but isn’t death one of the only guarantees in life? Death is uncomfortable, yes, but allow those you love to live out your legacy the way you would have wanted.

Lastly, one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned from Grief is to be a little softer, love a little more, give yourself grace, and always remember that you never know someone else’s story and what they may be going through.

Looking back, I wasn’t sure where my friendship with Grief would go at the time. My judgment of her was based on what little I knew and what others shared about her, which wasn’t always positive. I always had a way of wanting to know more about others and the deeper parts of them and who they are, and I think with Grief it was the same way. This time was different though as opposed to when people shared those parts with me in the past. Grief had a different perspective, challenged me more, and accepted me for whichever version of myself I showed up with that day. I think getting to know the deeper parts of who Grief is was actually just finding and getting to know the deeper parts of myself and who I truly am. We all go through life looking for the answers, making plans, and setting expectations for ourselves; oftentimes, it takes a life-altering experience (such as meeting a friend like Grief*) to discover who you are, your purpose, and your true, authentic self.

Grief is a true friend, a forever kind of friend. A friend where not every moment is perfect, but I know they are always there. A friend I can lean into when I need it and someone I can be my authentic self with. Friends like these can be hard to come by. So, I will forever be grateful for my friendship with Grief, what it has taught me, and will continue to teach me.

They say that in life we grieve because all the love we have has nowhere to go… but my friend, Grief, showed me all of the places it still can. 

*Note: Meeting a friend like Grief is not always in response to a death, but can be met as a result of any form of loss such as death, divorce, addiction, missing out on important milestones, loss of shelter, health issues, mass shootings, ending of a relationship, losing a job, war, loss or change of rights, empathizing with other’s losses, etc. Never underestimate or devalue your own feelings, and know that you can grieve without experiencing a direct death in your life.

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