Today is the seventh day of the A-Z Blogging Challenge. Just to remind you, I’m doing an A-Z of human emotions, feelings and mental states.Today is the letter G and I decided to write about Grief.
Grief is a difficult, confusing mental state comprised of many often conflicting emotions.It’s characterised by an overwhelming sense of loss, sadness and despair about a loved one’s passing, but often includes guilt (“I should have gone to see him in hospital”), fear (“I don’t want to lose anyone else”), confusion (“I don’t understand how this happened”) and even a sense of relief (“thank goodness he doesn’t have to suffer anymore and I can move on with my life”). It is usually brought about by the death of a loved one, but not neccessarily immediately after- it can still affect people many years later. Grief can also be felt about other kinds of seperation such as the breakdown of a relationship or the loss of a job.
Everybody grieves in different ways. Some like to cry to get it out of their system, some like to talk about it, some would rather not open up, some like to distract themselves with work etc, some find meaningful ways to remember their loved ones eg. a memorial plaque, rituals, some find comfort in religion and some people really struggle to cope and need some guidance counselling. Not crying about your grief doesn’t make it any less real- you just have a different way of coping.
Things that have helped me cope with grief
While I am not qualified to give advice on recovering from bereavement, you may find my quotes to help with grief useful. I’ve experienced the loss of several loved ones in my life, and I’m going to share with you some of the books, films and songs that have helped me to cope with it.
- The Time Traveller’s Wife by Audrey Niffengger. This is a fantastic sci-fi Romance about a man called Henry who has a condition where he time travellers involuntarily. His wife Clare has known him since he started randomly appearing in her meadow as a child, having come from the future in which she was already married to him. Yes, it’s a mind-boggler. It’s also a tear-jerker too. Clare and Henry stuggle together through the grief of several miscarriages before finally having their daughter. The ending is heartbreaking but very poignant and there are so many messages about life going on even after a loved one’s death and learning to let them go. If you don’t want to read the book, the film is very good too.
- Marley and Me is a great book for dealing with the loss of a pet. But beware: it will make you cry!
- Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach is a novella about a seagull learning about life and flight. It’s full of metaphors about moving on to heaven and learning to fly solo, and would help if you are struggling with your faith.
- Heaven Can Wait (1978) is a film starring Warren Beatty. It’s about a football player who, after being killed in a collision accident, is sent back to earth in the body of a millionaire who turns out to be not such a nice person and falls in love with the woman who hated him. It’s a pretty funny film but has poignant moments and gives you the hope that maybe death isn’t the end and that we may see our loved ones again in some form.
- The Bible. Although I’m an agnostic, I find reading the Bible helpful sometimes. Even if you don’t believe in God or don’t take the Bible literally, simply reading the beautiful words about life, death, hope, faith and resurrection as if they were poetry can be immensely comforting.
- Meatloaf’s music. Yes, not your obvious choice for songs about bereavement, but I turn to his music time and time again. Songs like ‘Objects in the Review Mirror’ offer advice such as ‘if life is just a highway, then the soul is just a car’. The main message is that things that happen in the past can seem closer than they really are, but in reality all the hurt and pain happened a long time ago and there’s no point dwelling on it. Another favourite is ‘Heaven Can Wait’ a beautiful ballad with comforting lyrics such as ‘The melody is gonna make me fly/Without pain, without fear’ and ‘a band of angels wrapped up in my heart/Will take me through the lonely night/Through the cold of the day.’ I urge you to give his music a try.
- Fruits Basket is an anime series about a girl called Tohuru Honda who goes to live with a strange family that involuntarily turn into the animals of the chinese zodiac. She is struggling to cope with the death of her mother, but finds comfort in her new ‘family’. I love the theme tune to this, the lyrics translated from Japanese are so beautiful and fitting for any funeral service:
‘I was so happy when you smiled/Your smile breaks through the clouds of gray/ Far from the sunny days that lie in sleep/ Waiting with patience for the spring/ When the flowers can bloom renewed again/ Knowing there’s more beyond the pain of today./ Although the scars of yesterday remain,/ You can go on living as much as your heart believes/ You can’t be born again although you can change/ Let’s stay together always.