The Unfairness of Grief: One Year Reflections

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It has been one year since my wife passed away.  Many people have asked, “How am I doing?”  Well, I’m here and life is moving on.  I don’t say that callously or without the pain of the journey, but with full knowledge of the journey of grief, I have been on this past year.  Getting over grief isn’t possible, but the leader of the support group I attend said something that was powerful,  “We don’t “get over” grief, we learn to assimilate grief into our life.”  I think that sums up the journey for the last year.  A journey of assimilation.  Everything is new and everything is hard because grief is an ever-present reality.

Grief isn’t fair.  I can deny grief or run from grief, but the only way to deal with it comes from taking the grief journey.  This eclectic journey of grief moves everyone in different ways.  One of the beauties of my support group was when I learned that everyone’s grief journey is different.  Everyone handles it differently and it affects each person individually.  However, the reality all of us deal with is grief isn’t fair.  As kids we all want life to be fair.  I cannot remember how many times as a child while arguing with my brother I would yell, “It’s not fair!!”  Well, as I walk through the journey of grief, I have learned that there are many reasons grief isn’t fair.

Grief isn’t fair because:

I have to keep Living

  1. Life doesn’t stop when tragedy hits, but inside it sure feels like it does.  So many conflicting emotions rise up when I try to live life in the midst of grief: pain, sorrow, guilt, loneliness, laughter, fear, thankfulness, etc…  The truth remains that grief can bring all of these emotions to me in a period of 2 minutes, but bills have to be paid, grass has to be cut, and bathrooms still don’t clean themselves.  This isn’t fair but it is the truth.  The hardest part of life and grief comes when you are trying to walk through them together.  The balancing act makes me think I’m on a tight rope above Niagra falls, but I just have to keep walking.  I just have to keep living.

I have to give more effort

  1. Everything is harder.  This is not a play for sympathy, but an observation of reality.  Being alone means I have to push myself.  When Angie was home, we would help each other.  One of us was usually motivated when the other one wasn’t.  Now, I can do whatever I want whenever I want.  This may sound like the ultimate freedom, but there is only so much Netflix I can binge and Blue Bell I can eat (well that isn’t true, I could probably eat all the Blue Bell….).  The adjustment of life alone comes when I have to push myself to go and do.  To go to a restaurant or a movie by myself takes effort.  People can say I should call someone and I do, but life isn’t always that easy.  Sometimes I just have to suck it up and do it by myself.  This takes effort.

I have to balance myself

  1. I don’t know how most marriages are, but Angie and I were a good balance for each other.  I don’t have that anymore and it isn’t fair.  I have to balance myself, and I don’t like doing that (see the Blue Bell example earlier.).  However, the ache of grief does not give me an excuse to drown all my sorrows in food, or media, or etc…. At some point, there is no one else there to tell me to get moving, or stop, or suck it up.  Walking through grief does not hide the fact that I have to learn to make these decisions for myself.  I have to learn when to say yes to myself and when to say no to myself.  I have lots of support and great friends, but at some point, I have had to learn to do this for myself.  That isn’t fair, but grief isn’t fair.

I have to keep growing

  1. Time doesn’t stop and my growth as an individual doesn’t stop just because I’m walking through grief.  Last year I felt like the world had stopped and I didn’t know what to do.  Now, I’m walking through a career transition, rearranging my house, and dealing with an empty nest.  All of this is a growth process because growing doesn’t stop in the midst of grief.  In fact, the journey of grief is a journey of growth.  Yeah, it isn’t fair, but it’s a journey I have to walk through.  No one can do it for me.

Life is an adventure for all of us.  Adventure does not mean it is always easy or fun.  Adventure means we are moving into the unknown and aren’t sure what is ahead.  This is just a glimpse of my current adventure.  You may be going through your own adventure.  It may not be pretty or fun, but you are going through it.  Just be encouraged that you aren’t alone.  Everyone deals with stuff.  Don’t run or hide from it!  Embrace your adventure and let it change you for the better.  Adventures won’t always be fair, but how they change us is the power we will always possess.


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