An Ocean Of Grief

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.” - Vicki Harrison

Out of so many writings about grief, there is one particular piece that has been an important part of my own journey.

The first time I read this particular post was months before my husband passed away. Someone had shared it on FaceBook after the death of an acquaintance. I remember thinking how beautiful it was, how authentic it felt. But even though I was moved by it in light of the death of someone I knew and once worked together, I never realised how deeply I would come to related to it just less than a year later.

I have read it many times, and it always resonates with me. In the early stages of my grief, it would make me sadder, sometimes angrier. After a few months I felt let down by it’s truth. As if God, or life, or even my own husband could’ve prevented this painful life sentence I now have to carry forever.

But even within all the mixed emotions, this piece of writing has, in some strange way, also brought me comfort and hope. If someone survived this maddening and cruel ocean of grief, maybe so could I. Maybe I wouldn’t drown. Maybe one day I could learn how to swim in it, given that I had only the choices of doing or or to allow myself to sink.

Often I considered letting myself sink. I grew tired of living, and I felt scared and resentful of living without the man I love. Giving up seemed like a relief. But I have two daughters. The most precious gift from the love I shared with Jason. They also were trying their best to learn to swim in their own ocean of grief. So giving up would mean adding to their sorrow and I wasn’t prepared to cause them even more pain.

Wave after wave of grief have crashed over me. So far I haven’t drowned. They still come, and I am still learning to swim.

“As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”

This piece about grief was taken from a Reddit page which you can access by clicking here.