Grief is not linear

Time heals all wounds.

You’ll feel better in time.

Eventually the pain will lessen.

The first 3 months…the first 6 months…the first year is the hardest.

These are all true, though they offer thin comfort. They add to the illusion that every day is better than the last, that every month is easier than its predecessor, that once you’re through the worst of it, the worst of it is gone. Which might be true but likely is not. Grief is not linear. It could be any other shape – a circle, a spiral, a wave, a triangle even but it is not a straight line.

I seem to feel a shift every few months. There was a lightening at 3 months, then again at 6, and at 9 months, I was feeling able to move forward in my life in a different way. But 2 months ago, I was thrown back to the beginning, to the intensity of daily, sometimes hourly, waves washing over me, demanding that I sob or rage or both. The news of a close friend’s pregnancy – her third child – with the same timing as mine with Ben, brought to the surface feelings that needed to see the light.  It has not been easy on either of us – joy dampened by sadness, a friendship strained as we struggle to understand each other.

I have felt through this entire journey that while I have been mourning my son, other hidden pain has shown up to be healed. There were times I would sob and wonder why the pain seemed old. I would get angry and as I took myself away to hurl rocks at the earth, it was as though a part of my brain closed since childhood was opening. I can’t tell you what I was angry about and I don’t care. I know that it needed – and found – release.

When I heard the news of my friend’s pregnancy, I felt as though I’d been hurtled back into time, back to those first months. I found myself wondering why, even as I knew the answer – grief is not linear. The worst has passed, for now, but I am not sure what will pull me under again. As long as I stop fighting and let myself float, I trust that I will resurface, a little less sad, a little more whole.

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7 Responses to Grief is not linear

  1. Julie Daley says:

    sometimes, it feels as if grief is a riptide, pulling us under when we least expect it. they say it is important not to fight a riptide, but rather to let go into it. perhaps, if we do, we come back up to the surface, where the sun is shining on us. i don’t know. perhaps.
    love, julie

  2. Marie says:

    Dear Alana, it sounds as if you’re going through a lot in your journey with your grief and that you keep finding doors that need to be open and who knows how many there are? Do you feel frustrated by it sometime or do you take it as is? Are the worksheets that you shared with me (after you had gone to a wonderful conference) helping you figure out more about the anger? Hoping you keep discovering your whole self in all of this. Lots of love, Marie xxx

  3. Roos says:

    Sending LOVE!!!

  4. pamela says:

    I learned so much reading this – thank you! Especially about the other pain that shows up to be healed. You remain one of the bravest souls I know. Much love!!!!!!!!

  5. Christa says:

    I agree with Pamela – you are so very brave.

    And wise – grief is in no way linear. And it comes back to visit at the oddest times…

    My view of it is similar to Julie’s – I think it is kind of like driving in snow – you steer with it for a little while (harder than it sounds) and then gently, slowly steer out. You remember what happens if you stomp on the brake, right?

    Love to you, and thanks for this…

  6. Rupa says:

    This is so beautiful and true. Thank you, Alana.

  7. Sabrina says:

    “No matter how hard we work at it, some wounds might never fully heal. You might have to adjust to a whole new way of living. Things may have changed too radically to ever go back to what they were. You might not even recognize yourself. It’s like you haven’t recovered anything at all. You’re a whole new person with a whole new life.”

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