Health and wellness: the underbelly of grief

Posted on Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Author: Ireen Savoy

Ocean sunset



Such a loaded word. The past few editions of Pulse I was making lists on the best movies and podcasts, and now here I am, writing about the healthiness of loss in the midst of my own grieving process.

Loss sucks. Plain and simple.

But the grieving process that comes with loss is much more complex, much more difficult to explain. Grief can’t be boiled down to a simple word that is mostly found in the mouth of prepubescent boys. Grief is like a beard that comes with a mustache. We are very distracted by the top of the lip but it is the bottom of the face that carries most of the impression. Grief has this talent at rendering us completely raw, while simultaneously transforming us into a person we have never met.

It’s hard. I was talking to a friend on the phone recently, and when she told me I miss you, my response was I miss me too. Not in a condescending way whatsoever, but more in a sad ‘how did we get here’ type of way.

So what is grief?

Grief is a 15 year old’s growing pains. It is the first breakup that mattered in your young adult life. It’s the last sunset of the summer before you back to work for 7 days straight doing 12 hour shifts. Grief is that distant cousin that you always forget how awkward and annoying they are because you only see them at terrible family functions every two years. Always at the back of your head but not enough, so your perspective of them is always distorted until the second before you get reacquainted.

But grief is also kindness. Grief is also community, and love, and support. Grief is the gratitude you feel Christmas morning, the warmth of the sun on your skin on a beachy day, the calmness of rain dripping on a tin roof as you sip an afternoon tea. Grief is every fiber of your being when engaged in a selfless act of love towards something bigger than yourself. Grief is faith. Faith that this too shall pass.

And so here we are at this impasse. This emotional fork in the metaphoric road of grieving.

I am not here to tell you take either roads, as I believe that the answers we are all looking for, as we continue our respective journeys, will look different for every single one of us. But what I have found, throughout this wild time of life, is that it is a harder choice, but a more natural one, to place love at the heart of grief.

Whether you are grieving a friend, family member, beloved pet, a previous life, even a loss of friendship, placing love and compassion for yourself at the center of it all is what, in my opinion, makes the growing pains and the gratitude more bearable.

And so if Frank Turner said « Life is about love, last minutes and lost evenings, about fire in our bellies and furtive little feelings », then I believe that the same can be said when one is celebrating the lost life of another. After all, grief is a celebration of what was.

In loving memory of R.S.S.

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