Grief Is Messy

Grief is messy and doesn’t fit into a nice and tidy time frame.  There is no way around it – we cry, we are angry and we don’t always want to socialize because we are quite simply unhappy.

Grief doesn’t play fair, and it’s not the same for everyone.  So why does society want our grief wrapped up and dealt with so fast?  Is it because grief makes them uncomfortable or because it brings them face to face with just how short and unfair life can be?

The truth is that it doesn’t matter how others feel about grief – it is messy and that’s the way it is.  Don’t try to change your grief into something that is easy and tidy.  Let grief be what it is and let it have whatever time it needs.

One of the most important skills is to not merely accept your grief, but to embrace it as a normal and healthy part of your journey.

True, our lives don’t look like what we had planned but perhaps some new thoughts can help us reduce our stress and gain a broader understanding of what we still have to be thankful for.

When your loved one dies, to say that your life will change is the greatest of all understatements.  Your life will be torn apart; mentally, physically, financially and spiritually.

I was surprised to find that a dominant emotion for me was fear.  Fear that I would never emerge from the emotional “widow fog”.  Fear that I would never again be able to laugh and experience joy.  Fear that I would fail in life and my memories of Donnie would fade away.  I thought grief was so messy and unknown that I feared moving forward.

This week it will be fourteen years since Donnie died and my fears never came true.  My memories of Donnie did not fade, I can laugh and experience joy and I have moved forward.  Was it easy? – No, but I worked at it and I didn’t let grief take over my life.

Grieving is a loss of not only our loved one, but also our life as we knew it. It’s a matter of learning to work through the mess to create a new life.  There are no shortcuts and no way to avoid our broken hearts.

Everyone experiencing grief knows that it alters not only the one who grieves but the friends/families around them.  The ground that we once felt safe on has fallen away, our identity as wives is gone and we are left with our messy grief.  We are confronted with unfinished and scary parts of our lives.

Here comes the challenge – to grow through our loss.

I know you are doing the best you can.  As I think of you, I thank life for you and me, because even in times like these I know we are not alone.

10 Responses

  1. Kathryn J Parker
    | Reply

    You explained grief so well. My husband has been gone over 2 years. It has been quite a journey but with God’s help I am making it one day at a time.

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Hi Kathryn. I’m sorry for your loss and broken heart. I’m happy to hear that you are working your way through it.

      Take care, Mary Francis

  2. shirley burke
    | Reply

    For me personally this is one of your best posts. I lost my husband just shy of our 50th anniversary in January 2020. The pandemic came shortly after his passing and I felt I not only lost my best friend but I lost family too. I look back to that time and wonder truly how I was going to survive this loss. It was only 20 months ago. I’m not sure when things began to change but eventually I realized I was starting to move on. I would never want to go through that pain again but I will tell you he would be so proud of how far I have come. I too was afraid if I moved on from grieving that I would forget his voice, I would lose all the memories. Honestly, he is with me everyday and I love talking about him to people who knew him well. Yes, do I wish he was still here. Absolutely, but dying is a part of life. I look at things differently. I treasure moments with my oldest and dearest friends. I’m grateful for whatever time I have left.
    I will miss him everyday for the rest of my life but I am thankful to have shared so many years with him. I thought the grief would never pass. It has. In a strange way without this loss I wonder if I would appreciate life the way I do now? Thank you for helping me to move on.

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Dear Shirley – I agree that grief can help us to appreciate life. We just need to be open to it.

      Take care, Mary Francis

  3. Kathy
    | Reply

    My husband of 38 years just passed away on June 5 2021. I am so lost without him. I feel like I’m still on autopilot in a different dimension. Some family and friends don’t understand how profound the pain is and think I should be further along and getting out and socializing more. I’m just not ready. What can I say to them to help them understand?

    • Mary Francis
      | Reply

      Hi Kathy – tell them the truth. It’s your broken heart and it’s still healing. Society just doesn’t understand and everyone wants a quick fix, but there is no such thing when it comes to grieving.

      It’s just been a little over a year, so stand firm and so what is right for you.

      Mary Francis

      • Kathy
        | Reply

        Thank-you Mary for the reply. Actually it’s only been 3 months since my dear husband passed. I feel like I have no direction on the grieving path. I have been praying to God and my husband to walk beside me.

        • Alice Choma
          | Reply

          I stumbled across tthis blog and am happy to find others who understand. I lost my husband of 43 years on July 2nd 2020 so it has been a little over a year. A few months ago though I sold our home retired and moved closer to my son and his wife. I thought I was doing all right but this move has turned my life upside down as I realize I didn’t really have much time to grieve as I was working and preparing our home for sale and dealing with covid and aftermath of having him in hospice during that time. All of a sudden I’m crying all the time and feel so alone and anxious in this unfamiliar place. I regret moving and just want to go home. Crazy, I appreciate all of you being there to understand and to show me that it’ll get better. Take care of yourselves! Alice

          • Mary Francis

            Hi Alice. I’m sorry for your loss and also that you are not happy with your move. Time just just let yourself grieve and than your broken heart will settle down as it heals.

  4. Sue Henderson
    | Reply

    Hi Alice
    I’m sorry for your loss and our paths are very similar. My husband passed in November 2018 (just before 47 yr anniversary) after a few months of hospitalization and then palliative care.
    I had to move, as well, since we’d previously decided to buy an apartment due to his declining mobility etc. I cried a lot but eventually forced myself to go for a walk or any distraction. I still have my moments but I joined a seniors centre and that has been wonderful to talk to people again. I have family but they are hurting too.
    I found this website and it has helped a lot. I hope I have helped you. We are not alone.

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