The Language of Grief

This article makes some very important points about how the language we use can influence the way we perceive and deal with grief:

"There is a huge misconception about grief in that it’s something we have to get over. Ask anyone who has lost a loved one and they’ll tell you it’s not about getting over anything. It’s about learning to adapt to unwelcome change. It’s about learning to live after loss. It’s about moving through grief to find peace. It’s about discovering how to keep your loved one in your life. It’s about still having the courage to love and be open to the gifts that life can bring.

Grief hurts. There is no denying that. If it didn’t I would be writing this and you most certainly wouldn’t be reading it. What’s ironic is that loss is a natural part of life. Yet most of us seem unequipped to deal with grief. This is partly due to how we speak about grief.

The same problem exists when we talk about “moving on” after the death of a loved one. Both “getting over” and “moving on” implies severing the connection we have to our loved one, putting them in the past and almost forgetting them.

If we think about the language that we use when talking about grief we can create a new language that supports us in our pain and allows us to move through it.

Instead of thinking that grief is some to “get over” we need to think that grief is something we “get to grips with.” Instead of being faced with the thought of “moving on” we can instead look at how to “move forward.”

These are subtle changes in language but they create wildly different meanings in our minds. These meanings and how we interpret the words makes all the difference between whether we actually stay stuck in grief or move through and beyond it.

It’s the same when people talk about how you need to “let go” after the death of a loved one. Many people assume that this means letting go of our loved one. To let go of our loved one would be to forget that they are part of us and our lives. What “letting go” really refers to is letting go of the pain and focusing on the love that exists between us and our loved one.

This love transcends death...This love connects us to them and ensures that they are still a part of our lives. This love can soothe the pain we feel and give us strength to “get to grips” with our grief and “move forward” in life in a way that honors our loved one."

(Tabitha Jayne, May 1st 2012; taken from The Grief Toolbox)

Grief never ends,
But it changes.

It’s a passage,
Not a place to stay.

The sense of loss
Must give way
If we are to value
The life that was lived.

Grief is not a sign of weakness
Nor lack of faith
It is the price of love.

--Author Unknown