Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go. ~Jamie Anderson
Losing A Parent Is Hell, So Stop Telling Me To ‘Get Over It’
Losing someone is a part of life. Even if the loss happens to everyone, it doesn’t stop us from feeling the pain.
We live in a culture that is too focused on instant-everything. When bad things happen, the rest of the world wants us to move on, get over it, and get back to feeling better. But that’s not how life works.
When we lose someone we love, it feels like there is a hole opening inside our chest. This hole seems larger than life and ever-expansive, threatening to consume our very existence if we stare too deeply into the abyss.
This hole doesn’t just go away simply because someone says, “just get over it”.
Though we can pull ourselves back from the edge, we may soon find ourselves brought back by a feeling, memory or event that triggers thoughts of the person that we once loved. A memory that we will never be able to ignore, forget or simply “get over”.
Try as we might, there really is no “getting over” the loss of a loved one.
Clinical psychologist Maria Lamia explains that the idea of trying to work through grief is a myth. While we all want to feel better, it is impossible to actually just “get over” how we feel.
These feelings of grief are valid and we owe it to ourselves to acknowledge them. Regardless of how uncomfortable we or anyone else might feel, grief needs to be dealt with.
Stages of Grief
In psychology, the five stages of grief seemingly encourage this notion of working through our feelings and “getting over” things.
It’s perfectly natural to fall into denial when confronted with loss. Oftentimes, people will be in shock or feel numb at the idea of their loved one passing away.
When reality finally hits, you’ll start to really feel the pain. This will lead to you feeling helpless, frustrated, and angry. Many people take this anger out on other loved ones, their higher power or themselves.
Bargaining comes when you try to imagine what you could have done to help prevent the loss. This stage is usually accompanied by thoughts like, “what if”, “if only”, and the like.
Once you reach the depression stage, you’ll begin to truly feel sad. The tears will fall, insomnia will come, and you’ll begin to feel overwhelmingly lonely.
As you enter the final stage, you’ll really come to terms with what happened. What happened has already past and nothing will change that.
This last step of the five stages of grief is the point in which most people think that they won’t be affected by loss anymore. However, life doesn’t work that way. When the same feelings of sadness and anger begin to return, people are confused, assuming that they had made it through their grief.
Maria Lamia goes on to explain that loss isn’t something one can speed through. This type of sadness brings a certain longing that can be lasting.
The truth of the matter is that we never really get over the loss.
You shouldn’t expect to “get over” loss. There’s a reason that the loss stays with us. While we may become softer towards it, the feeling never truly leave us. For this reason, we can find ourselves returning to the same emotions time and again, even years after the loss has occurred.
Though these feelings can be recurring, Maria believes that we should view these pangs of grief as alerts that let us remember, instead of something we try to forget.
If grief is something that stays with us, how is anyone supposed to deal with it? The answer, it seems, is that they just deal with it. Instead of forgetting, we must face our feelings. We must work through them, rather than get over them. As long as our memory of our loss stays with us, grief will be there too.
In a way, that is the best way to remember a loved one.