The Shape of Grief

Why now?  Why today? The emotion is overwhelming.

I feel this internal emptiness, an inexplicable sadness, a soulful yearning for someone I love … for someone whose essence encircles me … whose presence is near … but “he” is not.

I miss my Dad and I find myself gripped by grief today.

Grief! How does one define it?  What does it look like? What shape does it take? Can words possibly do justice to the depth of loss one feels?  It’s like trying to capture the shape of a wave.  How can mere words depict the poignancy of a wave’s undulating swell as the ebb and flow of it’s fluid shape transforms its appearance constantly. Ever changing! It’s simply too illusive.

Grief is like that.  Illusive, fluid and indescribable. How can words validate the poignancy of grief … the deep undulating waves of sadness, emptiness and the ebb and flow of sorrow.

Anyone who has lost a loved one discovers sooner or later, that grief hits home. Like it or not, each stage of grief does present itself in the face of loss … and one must navigate the accompanying emotions.

Interestingly enough, having experienced grief in the past, I naively thought I had a handle on the process. After all, I know what the stages of grief are and I understand one must experience the full range before arriving at acceptance … and peace. Silly me! Knowing the four phases in no way precludes the inevitability of suffering through them. Ugh!

Today I’m sharing this experience with you, so when grief hits {and at some time in your life it will} you’ll be prepared that it comes in waves. Like the movement of the ocean, there’s an ebb and flow to sorrow … and it bears an indefinable, unpredictable shape.

One moment you’re fine, then quite unexpectedly something you see, hear or remember will trigger an overpowering, gut-wrenching sense of loss and sadness. It literally seizes you. You may know exactly what triggered this response or you may be blindsided … you’re suddenly {as I was today} engulfed in this powerful, illusive surge of grief that holds you in its grip … and you wonder why … why at this moment?

Yes, I know all the right words of comfort, all the rationale to be happy for the loved the one who passed.  They had a great life, they are no longer suffering. I know all the reasons to feel joy in the place of loss …  my Dad is with Mum … they’re together in a glorious place.  Again, knowing these things doesn’t prevent the flood of emotion. Apparently grief is more powerful than knowledge. 

Of course on some level it does “help” to use comforting self-talk as described above, but there’s no denying that it doesn’t remove the emptiness … or pain of the loss.

It’s perfectly okay to be happy for the one who passed … to feel joy that they’re in a better place with loved ones who passed ahead of them, but it’s also okay to allow yourself to feel that overwhelming sense of bereavement, to mourn your loved one, to acknowledge the empty space inside that they so vibrantly filled when they were alive.

So be kind to yourself. Give yourself permission to feel the range of emotions … and  ride the undulating wave of grief. 

There’s and ebb and a flow. What wells up will also subside.

So even as suddenly as I was gripped by grief this morning, this evening I’m engulfed in a wondrous sense of hope and joy! I recall my Dad’s words to me on the day he died, I sense his reassuring hand on mine and the love in his eyes as he urges me “Anthea, I don’t want you to be upset!” I rejoice in the sense of excitement he felt as he prepared to meet his maker and reunite with my Mum, the love of his life.

And I am engulfed in love, the strongest of all emotions.  The power of love … it knows no boundaries … it transcends all other emotions!  Love never fails.  It conquers all! 

I love you Dad! 

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” Psalm 147:3


  1. You have so eloquently expressed the overwhelming sense of loss and the beauty of the circle of life! Love never does fail! Thank you Anthea

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