Allow Your Grief to Speak


Grief demands to be heard. It has something to say and it will relentlessly push its way until you hear it. But grief hurts and what is says is painful, so we try to shut it down, to muffle it, to ignore it, to numb it. All to no avail. Because grief will, run the end, speak no matter what.

Trying to shush or stifle our grief is similar to ignoring a crying baby, or to cover the mouth of a screaming toddler. It will just scream louder.

In the early stages of my grief, I felt so overwhelmed form its constant tantrums that I began to throw tantrums of my own. Grief scared me, but the worse part was that if I gave in to it I felt so out of control that I scared myself. On the other hand, when I pushed it away in order to cope with the demands of everyday life I felt suffocated by it. There was no escape and no respite.

The first time after Jason’s death when my children went to a kids camp during their school holidays was also the first time I was completely alone for a whole week. On the first evening, I bought a bottle of wine and prepared myself a nice dinner for myself. I didn’t eat the dinner but I drank the whole bottle of wine on my own. I did that four evenings in a row. The next day as I drove once again to the liquor store I realised what I was doing. I was unconsciously trying to numb the pain.

On that day I made a very hard decision. I would not numb my grief, I wouldn’t medicate it, wouldn’t drug it, wouldn’t drink it away, wouldn’t overwork to ignore it, wouldn’t pretend it wasn’t there to make other people feel comfortable.

I would listen to my grief, even though I wanted to run away from it. I would pay attention to what it was trying to tell me, what it was trying to show me, what it was trying to do for me and through me.

And a message became clear after that decision. My grief was a gift. The gift I didn’t want, the gift I resented. The gift I was scared of. But a gift nevertheless.

My grief was a reminding me of how much I loved and was loved. It was giving me an opportunity to discover a new way of seeing myself and the world, and to realise that there are so many people hurting around me. My grief showed me that there is too much pain to be wasted and too much love to be forgotten. My grief allowed me to hear the suffocated parts of my soul that I held silent for so long - because to hear them would be too painful - but that needed to be heard in order to be healed.

So choose to grieve. Because the alternative is to merely exist in numbness and illusion, wasting my life and burying my dreams until someone one day will have to grieve for me.

Tatiana Hotere