Jul 082014 7 Responses

An Ever Changing Grief

I’ve probably used the phrase ten times in the last week. Through a variety of situations—death, divorce, disappointment—I’ve reminded the person I’m talking to about the nature of grief—it is “ever changing.”

One of the great deceptions we have about grief is that we have dealt with it. It’s what the courageous among us do; we confront the pains of life as they come our way. Some foolishly choose a different path. They live in denial, pretending as though everything is okay. They are afraid to face the sorrows of life so they never deal with it.

But the courageous do. They confront every pain and try to understand it in the context of moving forward. They deal with it.

Yet dealing with our grief can lead to the false assumption that we have dealt with it, as though it is done. We think we have dealt with our grief like we have dealt a stack of cards—we did that. It’s viewed as a past event. (See: 7 Recommended Books for When Life Hurts)

Sadly, most of the sorrows of life are not things which can be dealt with one time. We don’t get the privilege of one cry, or one month of sadness, or one difficult season to put the loss of a parent, the heartache of a broken relationship, the diagnosis of a child, behind us.

The deep sorrows of life are not feelings we can get over by dealing with them; they are wounds which forever live with us and are always morphing with each passing month.

It’s an ever-changing grief. (See: Walking with My Son Through the Death of His Grandfather)

Having a child with special needs includes grief. Life is not exactly how I want it for her and, in turn, it’s not exactly how I want it for us. The difference between what is and what should be results in grief. It was true when the diagnosis came and it’s true nearly a decade later. But it is always changing:

It was a raw wound the night of the diagnosis.

It grew into a numb confusion for the first few years.

It was a hint of hidden sadness amidst the joys of the toddler years.

It’s a quiet stoicism in the elementary years.

But it’s all grief. (See: What to do When Life Falls Apart)

We dealt with at birth, continued to deal with it that first year, and still have regular conversations about whatever brings sorrow or sadness now. We have dealt with and will continue to deal with it all of our lives.

So it is with grief. It’s always there and it’s always changing.

No matter how much you grieved the loss of your parent at a young age, you will have to re-grieve their absence with every major milestone. (See: The Most Overlooked Characteristic of Who You Want to Marry)

No matter how prepared you are for the death of a loved one, you cannot be fully prepared for the moment they breathe their last or when you walk into the funeral or for the first anniversary of their death.

No matter how much you have dealt with the miscarriage or inability to get pregnant, just the right word or song can bring a flood of new emotions to the surface.

Many are confused by the process. They take the presence of grief as a sign they have done something wrong or a failure to have truly dealt with the loss years ago. But the new emotions are not a sign of past failure. It is the basic nature of the grieving process. It never truly ends.

The deepest sorrows of life will be carried with you for all of your life. You deal with them, but you have never fully dealt with them.

When we understand the true nature of grief, we are more patient with ourselves, kinder to others, and have a better grasp of what we are feeling, thinking, and doing.

We are able to prepare for difficult times and not be caught off guard when our emotions get the best of us.

Grief is a process, but it is not a simple four-stage process in which you travel through each stage and come out all healed on the other side. It is a lifetime process in which you swing in and out of different emotions based on the current circumstances of your life.

I have grieved over my daughter’s diagnosis. I am grieving her diagnosis. And a day will come in which I will have to grief aspects of her diagnosis which I haven’t even considered yet. (See: Why God Doesn’t Say Why)

I’m regularly asked, “What’s it like having a child with special needs?” I give many answers, but eventually I include, “It’s an ever-changing grief.” As it is with parenting a child with special needs, so it is with every sorrow of life.

7 Responses to An Ever Changing Grief
  1. […] ***For more on grieving, see Kevin Thompson’s post An Ever Changing Grief  at http://www.kev... livingtransparently.org/2014/07/10/this-isnt-the-life-i-dreamed-about
  2. […] And we shouldn’t try. (See: An Ever Changing Grief) […]... kevinathompson.com/not-every-tear-needs-a-diagnosis
  3. […] I often say life is hard enough, don’t make it harder. (See: An Ever Changing Grief) […]... kevinathompson.com/embrace-hard-days

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