When Does Grief End?
If grief follows the natural sequence of life wouldn’t it stand to reason that there is a beginning, a middle and an ending or does it spiral continuously throughout one’s life?
This is a great question and one that will be different in each case. For some, they never get over grief but rather learn to live with it. This is sad because they are not living their lives to its fullest and rather just making do.
Then there are those who believe it will end when it ends. Research has shown that if you allow yourself to grieve and be with it – then the heavy grieving where you are consumed by tears on a daily basis does begin to subside after about 3 months.
A Family’s Grieving
Let’s look at the question from the point of view of a young child whose has lost her father to death. Depending on the family dynamics the grief can become prolonged as it goes underground and presents itself later in life at different moments in time. This was the case for the person who first asked me this question?
I didn’t get the opportunity to delve deeper so what I’m writing now is pure speculation. Often it will be hard for a widow with children to find time to grieve. She now has more responsibilities and has to take care of everything including the family. Her grief can be put on hold.
Perhaps she isn’t comfortable grieving in front of the children so will stop herself if they are around. They may even hear her crying in her bedroom and wonder why? Children are amazing and will pick up on this and believe they did something wrong so it’s their fault.
When a child believes this, it can create conflict within them. They don’t know how to deal with these feelings. To help themselves cope they may develop bad behavior or rebelliousness to help them feel better. There is the other extreme where they withdraw and try extra hard to always do the right thing. They become good girls or boys.
Growing Up Without Dad
Regardless of how the loss was dealt with or how well they moved on with their lives, their grief may resurface at different times and for different reasons. It is often the milestones in life that tug at our hearts. Such as, when a young woman marries and is inconsolable at the thought that her dad won’t be by her side. Or when her children are born, and she realizes her dad will never know them. These situations can cause her to feel her loss acutely once again.
A young boy may feel resentful of his friends when he sees them with their dad. Or when his friends are playing sports or going on trips. It can be at these moments he feels the emotions but doesn’t know how to handle it. Crying isn’t an option, especially for boys. Those painful feelings may arise again when he buys his first car or when he buys his first house and it needs fixing. He can feel the loss of his dad all over again.
So, to answer the question, does grief ever end? It does end after the first event “the death” itself. The other losses are the firsts & seconds that I warn my clients about when they face these transitions through their life. Being aware of them doesn’t stop us from feeling these losses but what it does do is prepare us so that they don’t overwhelm us and we can plan for them.
Life is a series of losses and with each loss comes an opportunity for growth and learning.
This is how as humans, we evolve into expanded versions of ourselves. If it weren’t for loss when would growth and new learning occur?
Grief then is the alchemy turning our lead into gold and is as much a part of life as birth.
We must welcome in our grief as much as we welcome in our joy. Grief and Joy walk hand in hand just as surely as grief has a beginning, a middle and end like all emotions if they are given space.
If you’re still wondering if your grief will ever end, I have a solution and I’d love to chat with you more about it. Please email me at email@example.com and we will set up a time.
Life After Death?
Yes, indeed, there is life after A death. I’m sure you were curious to know if I was going to have some conclusive evidence to share with you. I’m pretty certain there is but that is not my topic for the moment. Let me explain…….
My Life Changed
November 17, 2011, began as a regular workday just like any other. I would drive to the office, say my hellos as I settled down to work. This began by me unlocking my computer and while I was waiting, the phone rang and I answered it. I then drove to the hospital to meet mum. Then two hours later we emerged, arm in arm numb and in shock. It was that one phone call, that would forever change our lives.
Once outside into a cool, overcast November day, pausing to see the traffic on the highway speeding by. With passers-by walking and talking all going about their business. To my mind, it seemed all wrong. Then this urge to scream “STOP, don’t’ you know my dad has just died bubbled up! It was confusing, their world got to continue while ours had stopped. I would swallow hard, being British and knowing how mum hated scenes I couldn’t create a fuss. Instead, I clutched her arm and stoically marched to the car. It was in that moment that I realized no one was coming to rescue us or take charge. We were on our own.
Our life from that moment on became one of business, no time to stop or think. Just endless To Do lists, “I’ll put the kettle on” would be mum’s mantra. I can’t even recall drinking any tea, but the kettle went on regardless.
Pivotal Moment #1
On the day of the funeral, it snowed, making everything look clean and fresh. Odd I recall thinking, it is only mid-November; had snow even been in the forecast? Perhaps this was a message from dad letting me know he was Ok and not to be sad. We were entering a new beginning for us all; a fresh clean page. I certainly found it comforting and it allowed me to get through that day.
After the Funeral
There was a certain comfort in returning to work, I had my routine back. My new routine would include a daily phone call to mum to see how she was. It was after the family returned to their own lives that I began to have trouble sleeping at night. I no longer had the multiple distractions, instead, I’d awake tired and restless for the day. Eventually, I sought medical help, thinking that perhaps sleeping tablets were the answer. This visit resulted in me being placed on medical leave. I felt so guilty and wondered if there was something wrong with me. Perhaps I was losing grip on reality or even malingering? A few of my colleagues had gone back to work after their parent’s funerals and appeared to be fine.
I would later seek the help of a psychologist to help me understand what was happening to me. It was the feelings of guilt that had me looking for answers. Unfortunately, this wasn’t helpful as he couldn’t understand why I was looking for help so soon. Good question – I was looking for answers that I didn’t have questions for. I just needed guidance to help with the guilt and ease the pain. I didn’t get any there. Apparently, everyone’s grief is different and it takes time. Even the books I read didn’t help much, as they also agreed you never get over grief? Rubbish, I thought and muddled along.
It didn’t take long for anger at feeling so helpless to show up. Finally, my boss, a surgeon gave me a clue. He called to see how I was doing, when I told him, his response was ”sounds like a reactionary depression”. A lightbulb moment, if there was a name for it, others must have experienced this as well. I was normal! My healing journey continued. It seems people can get so busy with all the arrangements that there is no time to grieve. This could result in your emotions getting blocked resulting in depression.
Many months later I found a coach to help me further. A friend had recommended her, she apparently could see spirits. How could I not go to her! She did healing sessions with angels and then we would look at my core value, my needs, and my beliefs. This work helped me connect me with me. Once I had a plan in my hand I began to feel hopeful and more myself.
My Healing Journey and Pivotal Market #2
Later that year I went on a retreat with my friend who is intuitive and works with flower essence. Interesting, believing I was healing, my friend would take me deeper into my grief. It seems music and art are a good way to release any lingering or deep-seated emotions. The exercise was to relax and listen to music as I was drawing. The music she chose was jazz. My dad had loved jazz and he was an artist as well, so a fitting exercise for me for sure. How could it not work?
After a few hours, I needed to move and went for a walk by the ravine behind her house. There is a bridge to cross and you can see a small stream that eventually flows into a pond. All was peaceful and still as I walked around. I heard all this commotion on the way back and saw it was the geese honking and flapping their wings. I wasn’t sure if they were practicing for flight or deciding who would lead. As I paused to observed they all took off and flew overhead. In that moment, I asked the geese to take my grief with them. I had decided it was time to let it go and return to the land of the living. I hadn’t realized it at the time, but that was the 1st anniversary of dad’s death. What a coincidence or was it?
Life Continues – Pivotal Market #3
A few months later I decided to retire. I realized that dad was not there to be disappointed by my decision to leave a good job with a pension. That was his belief that and it had worked well for him but not so for me. I retired and 4 days later my next career found me. I would become a grief coach.
There is Life After A Death
As part of my online study course, I received free tickets to an event in LA that my mentor hosted. My daughter, living in London agreed to go with me and we would meet in LA. It was on the last day of the event, after listening to death regrets stories and doing the exercises, I made a decision. I announced to the room that I wanted to go on to do the certification program. Life indeed was too short and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. I had seen my parents put off things in their lives.
Coincidence at work again? For this would be the 2nd anniversary of my dad’s death. It felt right and that I was on the right track.
Remember when I said earlier that my world had stopped. Well, it had in a sense for that chapter in my book had come to a close. The next chapter in my new life without dad had yet to be written. Perhaps this was why I couldn’t make sense of my life. Now the next chapters were getting ready to be written.
The snow, the retreat, saying yes, was that Dad giving me comfort and helping me. I believe Yes, there is life after death and life after A death – I’m living proof of that.
Now, I am happy to say as a grief coach, I can help you find your life after a loss. If you’d like to find out more, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and let’s connect.
When Father Dies
It doesn’t matter how old you are when a parent dies, the pain of not having them in your life is just as great regardless of age. That small child each of us carries within, cannot imagine a life without their parents. When one dies you get a glimpse of your new reality. This can bring about many fears and wonderment about how you will cope without them in your life.
With the death of our fathers, we do now have to grow up.
1. Fathers as role models for future men in our lives?
2. The beliefs we learn unconsciously from them
3. Fathers as the roots for the family
Our Role Models
Whatever the relationship with our fathers was, good, bad or darn right ugly, they were the first men in our lives. They were the ones who unconsciously would teach us about love. If like me your father was distant, you may spend your life attempting to be validated for who you are or to be noticed at least. When these needs are not fulfilled by our fathers, we later seek them to be met by our boyfriends. Then by our husbands. These males were our first role models whether we like it or not.
Roots & Beliefs
Fathers are the roots of the family, they keep their family safe and together. They were the breadwinners, the sole providers for their families (well in the 1950’s). These men are the ones we will forever model our future relationships after.
Now for the first time in our lives, we are without them. We now have to grow up and become the adult child our bodies show us to be. This takes time and we have to face all kinds of fears in the interim.
Relationship with Father
My relationship with my father was not a close one until near the end. At times he was silent, distant, or moody, making him quite difficult to read or get to really know. His dislikes were my boyfriends and spending money. I discovered many of my beliefs came from him, such as “hard work never hurt anyone and money certainly didn’t grow on trees”! Dad, however, had many loves. Art brought him joy, he’d spend hours drawing and painting. He even dabbled in photography. He was a drummer and could play classical guitar too. If I were to show an interest in any of these pursuits he would go off and return with a book or make an effort to show me how. Of course, I was never really that interested or just too busy raising my family to really get interested to learn what he wanted to teach me.
My Father, My Teacher
It wouldn’t be until the Christmas following his death when my husband bought me a full painting set did I really realize the error of my ways. For the moment I decided to paint, I realized I didn’t know how and of course I wished I had taken the time to learn from him. It may even have brought us closer sooner.
He did have a sense of humor when he wanted to and would entertain guests at many a New Year’s house parties at our home. He enjoyed those but hated dances, crowds or even to have fun well to me it seemed. However, he did have fun in his own solitary way, he enjoyed the simple things in life that’s all.
He had always been there for me I have to admit for advice and support. He was my oak tree but then his roots weakened and like all weakened trees they fall over. So sadly did he. Suddenly and really with no warning but if our eyes had of been wide open we would have seen the signs long before. Like everything unpleasant in life, we chose to ignore them and by doing so it would make it all go away.
I had to grow up that day. Something I didn’t want to do because at that moment he handed the reigns over to me, his eldest daughter. There was after all his wife, my mother to now look after.
Fortunately for me, we still have the heart of the family, our mother. Ever so slowly the large hole left by father has begun to fill in once more as we move on with our lives and onto a new one, one that doesn’t for the first time include him.
Not all Relationships are Loving
Of course, not everyone’s relationship with their Father is a loving one. Many women can fall into guilt if they feel thankful and relieved at news of their Father’s death or fall into despair over who will love them now? The loss of a parent can throw your life into disarray, you feel unable to cope, lack energy unable to make decisions even. That was me many years ago, I couldn’t find answers as to why or what was going on with me so I decided to go on my own journey. I sought the support of a coach who helped me get my life together again. I even wrote a book that I would have found helpful during my time with grief. This was my father’s legacy and now I guide other’s through their grief. You don’t have to suffer in silence or alone – reach out, please?