Are you grieving today? Try as we might to keep our spirits up, there is a time to grieve in our world right now. Good friend, Mary Byers, shows us how.
Let's Talk About Grief
By Mary Byers
My first association job was working for an international organization of funeral homes. My job included producing materials that members could buy for the families they served. "After the Loss" was a booklet I wrote about grief. I found a copy recently when I was purging paperwork. It reminded me of the research I conducted prior to writing the booklet - and what I learned about grief in the process.
Grief comes in all shapes and sizes. There are big losses (such as the death of a loved one) and small losses (such an event cancellation) and all sorts of losses in between. You - and only you - get to decide what category your loss fits in.
No grief is insignificant. Grief is grief. Large losses leave us wondering how we'll make it. But small losses add up, too. And continual losses, such as what we're experiencing as a result of COVID-19, increasing unemployment, injustice, and overall uncertainty, have a cumulative impact. Don't minimize any grief you feel.
Grief comes and goes. You can be fine one minute and catch yourself unexpectedly crying the next. Three steps forward, two steps back. Six steps forward, eight steps back. Griefs shows up unexpectedly. Sometimes it hangs around and sometimes it quickly disappears.
Grief shows up in different ways. You may be sad. You may be angry. You may have difficulty concentrating and remembering. You may have less energy. You may have trouble sleeping. You might experience all these symptoms, sometimes simultaneously. The way we experience it is as individual as we are.
Grief changes us. Whether it's the death of someone we love, goodbye to a hoped-for opportunity or circumstances that suddenly change, sorrow hollows us. If we let it, sorrow will also deepen us and make us new people.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I've shed tears over the last few months. I've cried for people I don't know who are dying alone. I've wept for the healthcare workers who care for them, often without the protective gear they need to keep themselves safe. I grieve the racial injustice that's been a part of our country since its founding. I've shed tears over both uncertainty ... and the certainty that things will be different moving forward. I despise the words "new normal," even as I grasp how achingly accurate and descriptive they are.
Yes, we're in a time of change. But no, we don't have to pretend we're not sad about our history, what's happening now, what's changed, and what might not be.
There are others better trained than I am to address the topic of grief. But my work has always been about starting difficult conversations and I can't think of a more necessary one right one. I know we're being brave and showing up and soldiering on. But it's okay to grieve, too.
Today, I feel strong and optimistic. But I know this will likely change - several times - before we are through this season. When it happens, I'll let myself grieve for a minute, an hour, a day, a week - whatever it takes. And then, remembering that God is unchanging and ever-present, even in strife, I'll remember this: we will prevail.
Mary Byers is the author of The Mother Load: How to Meet Your Own Needs While Caring for Your Family and Making Work at Home Work: Successfully Growing a Business and a Family Under One Roof. She's insanely curious, a mediocre tap dancer and she prefers the exit row on airplanes.