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Waves of grief:

One of the most commonly expressed statements I’ve heard about grief from people who are grieving and from things I’ve written in my journal is that rather than being a constant feeling, feelings of grief rise and fall and crash like waves at the shore.  

From my journal: “My missing you washes over me uncontrollably on its own time and tide and when it does it sears my mind and body with grief and pain and longing and what do I do nows until it subsides and ebbs for another unknowable length of time until it turns and again washes over me and I cry another part of my million tears.”

Waves: words and music by andi and howard fischer

If you’ve ever stood in the water on an ocean beach, especially after a storm when the waves are strong and high, the waves can knock you to your knees, they can put you on the ground and roll you over and over as they wash back off the shore. When that happens, their strength is so much greater than yours, all you can do is let it happen, roll with it and as the wave recedes and leaves you breathless on the sand, stand and become ready for the next wave. 

It’s the getting back up that is the challenge, especially when wave after wave knocks you down and you become fatigued and start running out of strength and breath. But of course you have to get back up and brace for the next wave. Does fatigue in this case equal feelings of hopeless in our early grief? 

I’ve heard people say that “this hurts worse than anything I’ve ever experienced. No one can be hurting as much as I am”.

It can be that bad! Early in the grief journey, the waves come so fast and the hurt comes at such a visceral level that it is almost 100% emotional and uncontrollable. It can make us sick momentarily, it can make us sick or sick-feeling all day long and day after day.  It will almost surely make us cry like we will never be able to stop, keep us from eating and sleeping and generally messing with everything in our lives as wave after wave crashes over us. 

Because this level of pain happens to a lot of us, it becomes almost an isolating thing. I believe it’s important to find ways to tell our stories, to let the sharing of our grief, (especially with fellow travelers) and the passing of time help to sooth the pain and lower the height and frequency of the waves so we can begin to stand again. By sharing our grief, we can help to dilute the pain and find some relief by letting it be expressed outside of ourselves and knowing that we are not alone in what we are feeling and going through. 

Thought for the day:

Waves of Grief = Waves of Love! Each time a wave of grief crashes over you, mixed with the pain and feelings of loss and sadness remember that we grieve because we love.

2 Replies to “Waves of Grief”

  1. My own journal references the ocean so often as it was our favorite place to vacation and recenter. The crashing waves rolling is a perfect analogy to this journey as it seems my own heart is pounding so loud that others must certainly hear it but then the rhythm of the waves reminds me to breath. Thank you for sharing your journey and allowing other ‘travelers’ to share their own journey so we might comfort one another in the waves of grief and love.

  2. Thanks so much for doing this blog. “Waves of grief” really says it. It will soon be 3 years since David died and while the waves don’t come as often, at times they still sneak up on me, and hijack what I’m trying to do. Like an uncontrollable wave of nausea, all I can do is try to make it to a safe, private place where I can let out the overwhelming anguish.

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