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Grief does not move in a straight line. 
Started by KathCull_admin
28 Feb 2016, 3:55 AM

"Grief is not linear," my friend said with a smile. Working in palliative care for many years, I often spent time with people who were grieving the death of a family member or close friend. But now I am grieving the death of my husband, my best friend and confidant. It's different on this side of the fence.

Henry died 7 months ago. Grief is not linear.

I am finding my way but not a day goes by that I don't think of him and miss him. 'Bigger grief' - a term I just coined :) comes over me - often unexpected - lasts for a few days, then eases away.

I have found I need to take time to grieve and 'be' but I also need to be wise and seek the company of friends and family. It's a bit of a balancing act and it definitely does not move in a straight line.

How does your grief move?

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Reply by Nouce
28 Feb 2016, 6:55 PM

"Grief hounds our waking moments and sleeping dreams, grabs us by the injured heart and casts us, shipwrecked, onto the treacherous shore. And just when we suppose the weary task is done, the journey's respite sure, great waves sweep in and submerge us again in the endless, storming sea....Yet great loss, in its dreadful disguise, is also a gift; the enabling unmasker, transforming our lives forever." --Elaine Pryce
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Reply by Carlyn
05 Mar 2016, 8:03 PM

Katherine, reading your posts reminds me of Jill Bolte-Taylor, the neuroanatomist who analysed her own stroke as it was happening. 

Grief wasn't linear for me. In between losses, I read about Kubler Ross and the Stages of Grief being restated as not following consecutively by numbered list. That was a relief because it caused concern when grief seemed to jump around in my experience. Katherine, your term "Big Grief" for those odd days of intensity makes a lot of sense.

Depending on the loss, I experienced that beautiful quote shared by Nouce. Thanks for that Nouce :-)


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Reply by Nouce
07 Aug 2016, 1:27 PM

Something I am learning--i call them grief  bursts. They seem to come out of nowhere. Or a slight nudge and suddenly grief is gushing out in howls. I want to let these move through freely like a thunderstorm, but am worried about what happens if I am with others when they come.  Thoughts?

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Reply by Rock Girl
29 Oct 2016, 12:53 AM

I love that phrase, "grief bursts", it captures it so well.  I find that I mostly won't let myself succumb to the little tearful grief bursts for a few days (and they happen sometimes several times a day), and then they just explode out uncontrollably, and I have a good sob.  

I wouldn't worry about being around others when you are noticeably grieving.  Although I haven't had one of my massive explosions in front of anybody, my voice breaks and I get tearful sometimes around my work colleagues and family, and they all know the situation and they are very understanding.  In fact, I have been impressed with how supportive some of my colleagues are. 

When I am with strangers, say, at the grocery store, if anyone is close enough to notice, say the cashier, I tell them "I just lost someone close to me."  

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Reply by KathCull_admin
03 Nov 2016, 10:46 PM

Hi Rock Girl, welcome to the community.  

Thanks so much for putting in words what so many of us know and understand. I too like Nouces' pharse 'grief bursts'.

Is the grief you are experiencing fairly new?

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Reply by melissaarden
07 Nov 2016, 12:23 AM

Hi everyone, very poetic responses and very moving. Quite an interesting question Katherine! I suppose I will try to anaylze how my grief moves. I'd say for me, grief lurks. It follows me wherever I go and I can always see it out of the corner of my eye but everytime I go to face it, it dashes off before I have the chance to confront it. Sometimes when it lurks it sneaks up on me real quick and puts its dark hands over my eyes while resting its weighed self down on my shoulders. You can't see!! And your ability to move fluidly through the world becomes restricted!! If i could only look him in the eyes, this Grief character, maybe we could work something out and get to walk together as friends. But for a consistent 15 years, grief has been one of the creepiest characters in my storybook life.
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Reply by Rock Girl
10 Nov 2016, 6:27 PM

Katherine - my beloved partner died August 7, 2016, after an 8 month battle with cancer.  

Tyson and I only met in December of 2014, and he was diagnosed in November of 2015.  In the scheme of things, it was only a short relationship, but he had a huge and wonderful impact on my life.  

Mel, I love your image of seeing your grief out of the corner of your eye.  It's there but you just can't grab hold of it.  And not being able to move fluidly through the world when it has hold of you.

I feel like I am lurching along in my life right now.  Sometimes I feel on top of things, such as in my full time job as a kindergarten teacher, and starting to catch up with jobs at my house (everything non-essential gets abandoned when your loved one gets ill - sure helps you decide what is important in life!)  Other times I feel overwhelmed with all I think I should be doing, and I have to keep telling myself to be gentle with myself, and I need to recognize that that is when the grief is suffocating me.

I find I am doing little inventories, either mental or actually written down, of things I am getting done to prove to myself how well I'm doing.  Who would believe I am finding solace in lists, and documenting things?  But it helps!  And one of the gifts to myself was going back through photos (all digital now really)I took through our relationship and printing off the ones I loved and making myself a little album.  It's almost like I can't believe it all happened.  Plus it was so good to find pictures of the fantastic times we had together at the beginning, because the second half of the relationship was looking after an increasingly ill man and some of those images (especially the night he died) were riveted in my memory, and I needed to push them aside with some great photos of how much he made me laugh and how much fun we had, falling in love in middle age! 
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Reply by KathCull_admin
13 Nov 2016, 1:02 AM

Thank you Rock Girl for telling me a bit more about your life and your love. Pictures have a wonderful way of bringing back memories, times - and more than just pictures. I am glad you had each other.

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Reply by Love Lives On
14 Nov 2016, 3:22 PM

Katherine, you have hit the nail on the head. Grief is definitely not linear and does not move in a straight line. I think that a lot of people have taken Kubler-Ross's 5 Stages of Grief and read into it much more than she probably intended as a linear process with a finite beginning and end. 

I believe that these 'stages' of grief are more 'phases' that you transition between in no particular order and you can fall back into one of these 'phases' at any time throughout the course of your life.

Working with grieving people myself, the experience of your own personal grief is something so different than what your professional work might 'prepare'. Being on the other side of the fence, as you say, is a totally different experience, and something that you cannot possibly prepare yourself for. 

Thank you for posting this thread and sharing your reflections on grief and I am thinking of you and sending you strength. Take it day by day, you will have some that are easier and some that are harder than others but you will make it through. 


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