Log in or Register to participate in these discussions

Waves Of Grief

Waves Of Grief

Posted by CentralAB on May 22, 2020 9:36 am

Sometimes when we experience loss, especially death of a loved one, various grief reactions seem to start happening with the people concerned. The death of a loved one does cause other losses, to which grief reactions can be associated. Even just having cancer, can trigger a grief reaction. My own grief reactions to the recent death of my wife, from cancer, has been informing me of many things I was previously unaware of. There is no right way, or right time frame by which to grieve a loss. Because each person is different, and will react differently.

Here is some of what I have learned so far.

A few things to understand about the grief process:

1) Grief is an unwelcome experience (to most)
2) Grief is a natural, human experience
3) Grief is a uniquely, personal experience
4) Grief is an emotional experience
5) Grief is a painful experience
6) Grief is a manageable experience

It has been my experience that grief can be a positive experience if we let it happen. Thoughts anyone?
________________ "there is always a little Light"

Re: Waves Of Grief

Posted by CentralAB on May 22, 2020 8:53 pm

One of the reasons that I thought to say that "It has been my experience that grief can be a positive experience if we let it happen," is because of some of the ways I have typically thought about it in the past, and even up until recently. But I have been realizing that this may not be a healthy way to look at it. I will try to explain briefly below:


Grief is not something that just happens to us; it is more something that we do. This one thought alone has shone a completely different light on my own situation. I have come up with a list that reflects why grief is something we do - or at least, it can be. And this seems to be giving me some level of control over processing the death of my wife, of which I had no control. This list is not all-inclusive. It only reflects examples. Each person will have variations or additions to add to this list. Yes, I am finding too that there are ways grief just happens to me; but even that is closely connected to this list of examples for what the grieving person can do.

1) Recounting The Story
2) Recognizing The Loss
3) Recalling The Past
4) Recovering The Present
5) Reconstructing The Future

This is a short list, mostly because I like short lists. There are many shades and colours that could be added.

Yesterday I had a grief event. Some might say "it just happened to you;" but after I recount this event, I will ask a question that I hope will help others, like it has helped me.

About a year ago my wife and I were having a great discussion about our hopes and dreams and things we would like to do "someday." I can still picture the sparkle in her eye and her sweet smile as I recounted one of my ambitions. I had great fun describing in minute details a certain type of vehicle that I would really like to own "someday." Now fast-forward to last week. I was surfing the internet, looking for something else, when i noticed an ad for a vehicle that was for sale. Out of curiosity, I clicked, and as soon as I saw the pictures of the vehicle; I just burst out bawling like crazy. It was EXACTLY what I had described to my wife a year ago, right down to the colour, and the model. So, that was my first "grief event" regarding this subject. To make a long story shorter, I am now the owner of said vehicle; but it did not happen without another grief event or two. The other day when I was talking with the lady at the bank, I started telling her this story, and I lost it again. Just uncontrollable weeping. That grief event was really hard. At least for me.

Yesterday I drove the vehicle home, and I am looking at it as I type out this note.

Is there anything in my grief event/s that you could pick out from the above list?

This leads me to my main question. Its a question for me, just as much as anyone reading this:

If you were going to paint us a word picture of your grief experience or thoughts, what would we see in that picture? (remember, each person is unique and different, and so too will be their grief. You can use any "shades" or "colours" you want, because its something that you will do/have done, personally).

This is why I have been thinking that perhaps it's true. Grief is not just something that merely happens to us. Grief is something we do.
________________ "there is always a little Light"

Re: Waves Of Grief

Posted by Brighty on May 22, 2020 10:46 pm

My grief counceller calls what you experienced 'grief attacks'  CentralAB‍ .     They are triggered by something usually.   In your case the vehicle.      It could be anything  really.      I used to get triggered big time by the song Dan and I picked   for our first song at our wedding CyndI Lauper 'time after time' .    I got triggered a few months back by a student  having a 15 minute  seizure  and when 911 came in. . I freaked out and sobbed in the bathroom.  ...   I got triggered by just about  everything that was a reminder of him ...... I have more to write so I'll be back a bit later.... 
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

Re: Waves Of Grief

Posted by Brighty on May 23, 2020 1:40 am

I'm back CentralAB‍ .     Grief is an experience the happens to us... it affects us emotonally,  mentally , socially and even physically.   Grieving  is something  we do for sure.    We grieve,  and we all experience this in different  ways.     I'm thinking about your list of 5 .    Recounting the story.    Yes , I did that a lot.    I went over and over it .  If only he would have..  if only I could have gotten home from work an hour earlier.... did you ever question yourelf in the process?   In what way did you recount the story?    For me , it was constant  guilt and self blame .    I know  now if it wasn't that day he passed , it have been another day.  It was a no win situation.          Recognizing the loss.     I'll just comment  on my own experience  of that.   For me the loss happened the minute  of diagoses.   Nothing  was ever the same again.    For you , when did you experience the second one?   Number 3 ...recall the past is a bit the same for me as the first one....recounting the story.     Recalling the past was just going over the story again and tormenting myself.    But number 3 has also changed  over time.  I can recall good memories  too and smile and laugh and some of tbe crazy things we used to do together       I can also talk about it without always bursting into tears.     Now on to number 4.   Recover the present.     It takes a very long time to do this one.    At least for me.     My whole world was turned upside down and life was not like before.  Nothing panned out or went like it was supposed to.     It took a lot of therapy and a lot of soul searching  to recover  and feel comfotable with the present ,and accept the present and the way it is now.      Almost 2 years in and I still am working on being comfortable  with 'this is how it is now he's not comibg back so you better get used to the present.     The present is now, finding out how your life will be  like now, without the person.     Getting  used to a brand new life ,and a brand new routine. A new routine that none of us  asked  for.    I think  that's where I'm at now still in my process.      I tried  to get my life back to the  way things were before .   I wanted all the same things I had before,  I wanted to supply at the same schools ,  see the same people, get back to my old routine..shopping on Friday afternoons at 4:30 pm.  Etc.  Because  those things brought me comfort and I want to cling to them .   One aspect of my world was turned upside  down but I wanted  control over the rest.  And I wanted  the other parts to stay how I always  remember  them.     My brother makes fun of me  that I shop at 4:30 pm sharp on Fridays.    My routines now are timed to minute. .   I lost Dan and that was out of my control but I'm not going to lose the things I can control like my routines and times.   I need these routines and comforts  to keep me sane.     Now that I'm out of work because  of covid  I don't have a work routine so I feel like I lost control of things again.    So here agsin,  struggling with recovering the present.   Another 'new normal' to get used to.     Your last one , reconstruct the future     I'm nowhere near that one yet.    I have no idea what my future  holds, if I will ever date agsin,  .   I don't think too much about it because one , it scares me  and two,  even after 2 years I have no desire to be with any one else.    Others move on and date so they may get to number 5 quicker.    But I'm not ready  for that and still navigating  the  present.  I know my friends  and family would  like to see me move on ..(number 5)  seriously I thought I was off the hook during covid but they still think I should date  some day .    We're in a pandemic. .I'm not going near anyone!!  .   So reconstructing the future.. I'm just notthere.     When you have a chance would you like to go into more detail of your list?  What I wrote is just how I interpretated it and only applies to my situation  but I would like to know how you thought of the list and where you are at now.    

Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

Re: Waves Of Grief

Posted by Cynthia Mac on May 23, 2020 8:02 am

CentralAB‍ , over the years, I’ve done a lot of reading on the powers of positive thinking, and the law of attraction. From this, I’ve come to think that there are no coincidences, and that things like your vehicle just come to us when the time is right. That being said, though, I also believe that sometimes, those things are meant to “set us off,” whether it’s the “wonder of the coincidence,” or a higher power telling us that it’s time for us to “have a moment.”

My Dad finally got his “someday” car, too. He’s always kept impeccable care of his vehicles, and had kept his Ford 500 going for the last 13 years since he bought it (at 2 years old), but he found a “sweet deal” on a Lincoln last winter, and he snapped it up, right before all this pandemic stuff. After he got it, he told me he “talked” to Mom to tell her about it, and I said, “Uh huh, and I can totally hear her reaction when you told her it’s got a white leather interior!” 

For my grief experience, I’m going to go to my grief over my grandmother. I cried for two days after her funeral, and on the second day, I remember standing inside my basement, watching the robin who was nesting under the overhanging deck. As I watched her, I said, “You’re right, robin, it’s time to stop crying.” And I did. Ten years later, I went to a teacup reader, and she asked me who was the older lady who played the piano. “Oh, my aunt,” I said. “Mmm,” the lady said, “this lady has passed, and she didn’t play piano all the time, but if she was dusting in the room with the piano, she would sit down and start to play.” Immediately, I burst into tears and choked out, “I can hear the song. It was my grandmother.” She said, “She is with you, every day,” and I replied. “I know.”  And she is with me every day, even now. She is with me in every stitch I knit, every cookie or muffin I bake, and every stitch I embroider, for she taught me all these things. I cannot help but think of her all the time, and I still tear up from time to time (often when I recount the tea reader story), but mostly now my memory of her only ever gets as sad as to border on melancholy. So, my grief over her has become much lighter since those days when I cried, which are now 33 years gone.

I’ve found that when the waves of grief rise up over us like a wave on the shore, we should stand our ground, let that wave soak the hem of our clothing, add a little salt from our tears to it, and then allow it to ebb back out into the ocean. 
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Waves Of Grief

Posted by CentralAB on May 23, 2020 8:37 am

Hello Brighty‍ Yes, Ill go into the list more as time & energy permit. Thank you for your post. Always enjoy reading your thoughts. About the last step, in my mind, it does not have to be about dating someone again. The future can be all kinds of things to all kinds of people. For me, right now, its just about establishing new routines and activities, and likely some volunteer work. I am looking at several potential opportunities there.

Cynthia Mac‍  Really enjoyed your post as well. I loved the part about the Robin singing that song.

I hope as time goes on that others will be able to also contribute to this topic. Everyone will likely have different experiences, but perhaps with some similarities. I know that as I process things, it really helps to hear other people's experience and thoughts. There is no right/wrong when it comes to grief, its just about what is best for our particular situation. Till next time.
________________ "there is always a little Light"

Re: Waves Of Grief

Posted by CentralAB on May 24, 2020 4:33 pm

Cynthia Mac:
CentralAB‍ , over the years, I’ve done a lot of reading on the powers of positive thinking, and the law of attraction. From this, I’ve come to think that there are no coincidences, and that things like your vehicle just come to us when the time is right. That being said, though, I also believe that sometimes, those things are meant to “set us off,” whether it’s the “wonder of the coincidence,” or a higher power telling us that it’s time for us to “have a moment.”

Hello Cynthia Mac‍ I loved your whole post. It is encouraging to read everyone's responses to their grief journey. I have grown to call it a journey, rather than an event. I believe you are right about the vehicle situation; and I would add one further step to that and say that for myself, I cant call it a "trigger," because that makes me feel like Im being categorized and put into some sort of "therapeutic box." Almost like a "Skinner's Box," but with a few differences. It seems that some people need to reward me with accolades for "not crying," and with judgments when I do. "You should be over it now," or "why on earth are you bawling just about that?" The people who know me best will always ask me what is the meaning of those tears, what is the story behind them? And thats what gives me a better understanding of both mine, and other people's grief journey. When people do that with me; its not them giving me the answer; its me giving them MY answer.

The way I function best is to look at it as a connection point, rather than a "trigger." "Trigger" sounds a bit negative to me, like something about it needs to be resisted, or fixed, or improved somehow. It wasn't the vehicle itself that "triggered" my manifested emotions; it was recalling the wonderful closeness and fun that my wife and I had when we were discussing it, and some related things.I didn't cry because I saw the vehicle; I cried because of the way my wife and I were so close, and thinking: "oh how I wish for and miss that." So in my mind; I was "grieving" for lost relationship and intimacy of having someone to confide everything in. In my mind, I cry about what I lost, not what I see. I am finding that behind every grief event is a story. A deep meaning. And if it's "natural" or "normal" to grieve; I want to understand it better.

There are other connections to my wife. Very few of them find me in tears. The vehicle did because of the nature surrounding that whole conversation, but today, for example, as I walked around the house doing a little tidying, there were several small items in different locations that belonged to her, and none of them made me cry. Its because of the nature of the connection TO HER  surrounding each article and so today's connections had me smiling away like a little boy in a candy shop! One thing, for example was a green razor. Green was her favourite colour. And I just broke out in a grin as I recalled all the events and talk about all things "green."  If someone saw me walking around the house by myself grinning like that; they would have really wondered if they didn't know the context. My wife kept journals for many years. As I went through them just after she died, I saw that from the beginning in the late eighties, they were packed full of gratitude statements. I learned a valuable lesson from her about gratitude, and what happens when we express it regularly. And to this day, Thats what has me feeling so happy. I AM actually happy right now; even though I am "grieving."
________________ "there is always a little Light"

Re: Waves Of Grief

Posted by Cynthia Mac on May 24, 2020 8:27 pm

What an awesome post, CentralAB‍ - very powerful.

I’m glad I used the term “set us off” rather than “triggers us”! I don’t regard triggers as necessarily bad - after all, there was a pretty handsome horse called Trigger when I was a kid - but I think you’re right - it’s not the “things” themselves that set us off, it’s what we feel when we see or experience them that does it. So, perhaps, in that sense, what they really are are “touchstones,” things that cause us to feel touched in some fashion.

Every time you write about your wife, I have more appreciation for her. I’m so happy that you are able to feel the joy even in your grief.
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Waves Of Grief

Posted by Laika57 on May 24, 2020 11:15 pm

Wow, powerful words, all of you.

When I read the title "waves of grief", it very much reminded me of when I lost my dog. Losing a pet is probably a less complicated grief. Less baggage for sure.
Though I can't really compare, I barely knew my grandparents, and my husband is still with the living, so i work hard on not going there just yet.

back when we lost our dog, it really felt as though waves of grief would crash over me at the oddest moments. So that title grabbed me. There were many times I probably should not have been driving. I'd be thinking about plans for the weekend and wham! I'd remember I wouldn't be walking the dog before sunrise and bawl my eyes out.
it's been three years, and of all the things to still set me off, it's usually the grocery store. Liver and asiago cheese. 
I now buy these for my new dog, but I think of Goofy every time. Tears well up when there is peanut butter on sale. - I used to buy five jars at a time to make his cookies...
I smile when I see someone crossing the street with a baguette sticking out of their bag, because it reminds me of the time he walked behind such a person and stole the bread. There are so many stories, so much personality. I find I have few bouts of sudden crying these days, instead I'm getting to wanting to share all those stories with the world. Even debating if I should visit some of the old haunts and see if I can find the various kongs he drowned in different creeks... now finding one of those would definitely set me off crying again.

as it turned out, Rudi, our new dog, was abandoned the week we lost Goof. We didn't adopt him til half a year later, but we still joke about Goofy picking him for us, the perfect dog for me "with a twist" - and yes, for a dog, Goofy had a wicked sense of humor.

anyhow, I find the past and the future intertwine. Some things are meant to be, and sometimes, those flashes of memory let us notice it.

Re: Waves Of Grief

Posted by Brighty on May 24, 2020 11:32 pm

Losing a pet is devastating  Laika57‍     they are a huge part of your life  and family.    Brighty is my sweet nephew dog and been a part of the family for 11 years.  I can't even  fathom a world without him.      He is such a silly little guy and so kind and gentle natured.     So loveable.   Then I got Vinnie  an he is my best friend.    He laid beside me night after night while I cried going through  all that stuff as a caregiver.     I am so happy to have him here .  His cute little pitter pattering around , the cute little sounds he makes .. the way I'll be sleeping and he'll just jump  in bed beside me and snuggle beside me purring.     There's no greater joy or comfort then a pet.       I bet  your dog brings you a lot of joy and comfort.  I'm glad you have him.
Help is out there. All you have to do is reach out.

Re: Waves Of Grief

Posted by Cynthia Mac on May 25, 2020 9:31 am

Laika57‍ , I know well what you say when you say Goofy sent Rudi your way. I feel the same, only my little white dog sent me a little black cat. Molly appeared on my door less than a month after Zoey left me. I started feeding this little stray and eventually rescued her (and, by then 4 kittens). I’m welling up now just remembering it and it’s 3 1/2 years ago now, but then, I’ve had an emotional weekend, so I’m not surprised the tears are so close to the surface.
“When the root is deep, there is no reason to fear the wind.” - Japanese saying

Re: Waves Of Grief

Posted by healthygrieving on May 26, 2020 7:13 pm

Wow... just came across this thread and thought I'd let you all know I have a blog actually called "Healthy Grieving" - Healthy Grieving - it's not specific to only cancer, but does explain my thoughts on it. I wish everyone the transformative experience I have had through my own grief journey. It looks like there is a lot of support here and that is so wonderful to see!
Be well everyone.