Analogies of grief help me see a bigger picture, and I’ve used a few along the way to help me make sense in my mind what I have been experiencing. Grief is so foreign and unknown in the beginning. I think the reason it’s gotten easier for me, is that I've become more comfortable with my grief. The feelings and emotions that come with it are more familiar. It doesn’t mean it’s so much less painful, but more that it’s become so much a part of me that it’s part of who I am.
The Person Called Grief
The first analogy I want to dive into is the analogy of this person called grief. This person named grief has come to walk with you the rest of your life. They are this invisible person that not everyone else can see, but you can and they are always there. Right away, you fight and tell this person to go away. You want to get rid of them, you didn’t ask them to come here. This person called grief stays and is persistent. They scare you, and make you feel many things you never knew were possible to experience and you want to fight them. It’s so incredibly exhausting to have them walking beside you.
As time goes on, you start to get more comfortable with this person. You realize, that even though you keep fighting them, and wanting them to go away that this person called grief is not going away. They are here to stay. Then you can start to relax and get comfortable with this person. This is how I think of my grief as time has gone on. I fought and fought to not have grief in my life. It’s so horrific and painful, but over time, I’ve come to accept it as my normal and part of who I am.
The Shattered Foundation
The second analogy I want to walk through is this vision of a house. Before your child died you have a house on a foundation. This foundation has this deep belief that nothing horrible will happen to you. Things might have happened in the past, but this foundation keeps you standing and keeps you sane as you go believing the best for yourself in your life. Then your child dies. You house and your whole foundation is shattered. Everything can be questioned. Everything is broken in your life. There is no up or down or one way to go.
The tough work is in front of you, and this is to rebuild this foundation. This work is rebuilding trust in your life, and faith that you can keep going and you will be okay. It’s so frustrating, depressing, agonizing to look at the shattered foundation and house, and makes you despair to even think about rebuilding it. All you want is the perfectly beautiful house you had in the past.
As you work brick by brick to rebuild this foundation, you can start to see the strength you are building, and the life and the possibility of a future before you. It takes time and work, and sometimes you need to take a break. Sometimes you need to rest, and then you can get back to the tough work. If you want to rebuild you need to do this work. When you are finished, there are cracks and scars, these cracks show the pain and tears you cried as you worked to rebuild this house. There might even be a dent in the wall when you got really angry. But this house is beautiful, and it’s yours. Scars, cracks, and all. And it’s proof that even after a shattered foundation, that it’s possible to build again.
This analogy to me is the feeling that our life is shattered and broken. It seems so impossible to go on and live without our child. It’s difficult to dream and see and possibilities in the future. So many changes come quickly all at once, and they all need to be grieved and worked through.
The Grief Button
The last analogy I wanted to walk through today is just a picture of grief. Think of your grief as a button inside a box. There is a ball in that box, and in the beginning, your grief takes up the entire box. The ball bounces around in that box and hits that button constantly. Grief is your whole life, there is nothing that gives you a break or respite from this pain. This button is hit over and over again. As time goes on you and start working on pushing that box bigger, the grief button is still the same size, but the box starts getting bigger. The ball bounces around and hits the grief button less and less. When it hits, it brings up many of the same things it always has, it just starts to hit the button less often because the box is bigger.
This is what it means to grow your life bigger around grief. We do not get over it, or move on from it. Grief is always there, and it doesn’t get smaller. Your life can grow bigger around it, so that your grief is not the only thing that is in your life anymore. It’s still there, just not as overwhelming.
I hope these analogies make sense to you. Take them or leave them. There are so many more that I can talk about, many I will someday. I have just found that finding a way to try to make sense of what I am experiencing helps me put my grief into perspective a little bit. Do any of them resonate with you? If so, which one is your favorite?