This is the Best Response I’ve ever Heard about How to Process Grief.

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My friend just died. I don’t know what to do.

Not knowing how to deal with grief is a common problem for humanity.

This is the best response I’ve ever heard about how to process grief:

via Reddit/GSnow

“Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter.” I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

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.”




Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: wikicommons

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Gina Locurcio Mar 20, 2019 11:23pm

This touches my heart. Thank you for crafting such a beautiful metaphor with the waves. i’ve lost my partner, my mom and a very close friend over the past 2 years and your words remind me that scars are also medals of love and courage. and that life is about surfing all-sized waves.

darrien lynn Mar 20, 2019 5:10pm

This came at a good time foe me, I lost my dog last week, not a person I know, but more than some people for me. I lost my constant companion and BF. She was here by my side for ten years. It tears me up, but as they say ” she is in a better place” she was suffering with a brain tumor. Thanks again.

Annelize Lundall Mar 20, 2019 5:30am

Beautiful outlook, love the fact that even the deepest hurt can enfold in a beautiful scar! Thanks for sharing this!

lebrandy4 Feb 27, 2019 9:51am

Words that can express feelings! Powerful!

anonymous Jan 14, 2016 4:46pm

Very powerful article, thank you for sharing these words. I will share them with others, to ease their pain. Love X

anonymous Nov 19, 2015 9:37am

This is an awesome article. Thanks for posting it. I see a good many clients for matters related to grief and this article contains so many metaphors I'll be using with the ones who come in the future. Thank you.

anonymous Nov 16, 2015 9:32pm

Thank you for this. I lost my Dad to suicide in August. I’m 22 years old and he was 47. My Dad was my best friend and biggest supporter. The pain is unbearable, but this is the first thing I’ve read that has deeply touched me and gave me some sort of peace.

anonymous Oct 29, 2015 3:54pm

My 3 sisters ( who were also my best friends in life ) all died at young ages ( ages 3, 33, and 56 ) as well as my Parents. I welcome the waves and need them. I need to let out the tears In between carrying on and living life. It helps me breathe after a wave passes. When the waves come, I somehow feel closer to them – like they understand and are comforting me. But I don’t like it when the waves come without expecting it – like seeing two sisters in a nail shop with heads huddled together and laughing at a secret they share. I realized tears were rolling down my face in public and I was embarrassed and never went back there. Or seeing other people’s photos of them and their sisters together – I will scroll past them real fast if I’m not alone to alliviate the embarrassment of a tear rolling out. I can feel that the waves are getting further apart, but sometimes I welcome them.

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 10:10pm

It’s been 10 months since I lost my 5 month old son. This is a perfect metaphor for grief and along with the sadness come waves of love. I put away all his cards today without shedding a tear but I did have a horrendous headache. So perhaps I’m still in the shipwreck stage; I can see the surface but I’m not above it, and those waves, they still take my breath away. My other son blew kisses and hugs up to the sky to say goodnight to his brother. I love that boy and it’s who I hold on to so I don’t sink down lower.

    anonymous Oct 29, 2015 6:22am

    When I read your first sentence, my breathe stopped for a second. I have a friend that lost her baby when she was few months old, Time went by and after a while (a year or so) she said to me: “I lived the worst and most painful experience ever, I reached the higher level of pain, nothing can bring me down now, and I’m here stronger than ever knowing that I can handle everything in life thinking clearer about other problems”. She has 2 kids and she is happier than ever and a better person, she is happy even with her scar.

    anonymous Nov 2, 2015 4:46am

    I lost my profoundly disabled son a year ago we called him The Joy Boy now he is Our Boy in the Sky I read that you finally put his cards away after five months I am still to get to that place but it kinda helps to read randomly other people experiences.
    Thank you

    anonymous Mar 13, 2016 10:36pm

    Sarah, I'm so sorry for your loss. I send you love as you make your way through the waves. <3

anonymous Oct 27, 2015 10:10am

I have had multiple losses throughout my life. Now in my early 60s, I’ve learned to “ride the wave” when it comes and not resist the grief or pain: It seems to help the wave pass more quickly and not be so large the next time.

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Ashleigh Hitchcock

Ashleigh Hitchcock is a simple girl with a complicated life. She has many jobs and 1000 hobbies; to stay sane, she practices meditation and yoga. Ashleigh’s greatest treasures are her friends, loved ones, and pets. When Ashleigh wants to cheer herself up, she smiles at strangers until she finds a really good one. Catch up with Ashleigh on Facebook and Instagram.