The Impact Slap of Grief: A Grief Relief Column

Published 9:56 pm Monday, July 16, 2018

Sometimes, when we can see a storm approaching, we can brace ourselves for impact.  Maybe we run a mad dash to the nearest alcove seeking cover before becoming drenched or potentially being struck by that random bolt of lightning, or perhaps we stay within the safety of our homes seeking the safety of the shelter provided by our four walls.  However, there are times in our lives that no matter how cautious we are being or how cognizant we are to the happenings going on around us, we are still hit unexpectedly by something so impactful that it sends us careening into despair and sadness.

Please hear me when I say this, “No one is immune from the storms of life.”  We must face our hardships, our trials and tribulations when they occur and some storms are definitely easier to weather than others.  But, in the end, the impact of the storm can leave us feeling drained and weakened from the power of its forceful nature, an impactful slap that awakens us to the “not so pretty” side of life and death. Grief is an impact slap.  It arrives sometimes unannounced and definitely uninvited taking our seemingly easy and wonderful life and turning it upside down.  It hurts.  It creates pain unlike any other and its reverberating aftermath often leaves us stunned and uncomprehending of what essentially just happened.

Keep in mind that there are many levels of the “impact slap“ and the storms that arrive shortly afterwards.  Sometimes people experience the sad reality of changes that occur in friendships or social gatherings.  People become uncomfortable with our grief and simply disappear, uncertain how to be supportive or fearful of “making things worse” and thus their actions (or non-actions) create additional factors that come hand in hand with the grief journey.

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I have often discussed how many state that grief makes them feel “lost” in addition to feeling the “loss.”  Sincerely, I have no doubts this is true due to the number of people who wander and stumble through life’s unkind challenges after death occurs.  Something that was once as simple as paying a bill online becomes stressful if you never did it before or if you are uncertain of a password or account number.  Or, what about when people approach you asking if they can have something of your loved one, a painful reminder that they are gone and are never coming back? 

In general, people are not trying to be insensitive. However, when the raging pain of loss encompasses your soul, every little thing can be impactful- either in a negative or a positive way.  Unfortunately, when we are in our grief fog, it is difficult to see the positives and there are moments where we feel everything so strongly, our hearts sensitive and fragile, the brokenness feeling like tiny knives invading our heart.  So what can we do to lessen some of the outlying impact?

Take deep breaths when they occur and hold on.  Know that the moment is horribly intense and painful but that it will subside readying you for the next sneak attack.  Walk away from difficult situations and regroup taking the time to process feelings before responding.  Again, no one wishes to create a storm of the century, so please consider engaging in some silent moments.  You are entitled to your grief journey and its full impact, so face those unexpected slaps and learn from them.  The hardest part about surviving is recognizing that you must get back up and keep moving forward.  Believe it or not, you will become stronger from having weathered the storm.  Hang in there.