This is a hard one. Grief is a heart-wrenching, life changing feeling. It’s something that affects your life entirely. It changes you. It’s also something everyone experiences differently. People say Jealousy is the big green monster, but Grief is the biggest in my opinion because it never goes away.

I have known my own grief in my lifetime and witnessed some of the most agonizing for my family and friends. My father died when I was 25. It was sad for obvious reasons, but at 25 there aren’t many friends who understand the loss of a parent. I did have one, though. I always looked at her as a sort of parenting mentor. She was a single mom, and she was truly a great parent herself and a good person.

Later one of my best friends growing up experienced the loss of her brother, and then her father soon after. Just five years later my friend herself died. Her mother lost her entire family in five years. That kind of loss in inexplicable. How does someone cope with that? My heart broke for the loss of my friend, but more importantly her mother who had lost so very much.

My husband had to experience the loss of both of his parents. He is an only child and this kind of loneliness was something I could only help him through as a support system. I have siblings and cannot know that untethered feeling of no longer having those pillars of what made you literally a person cease to exist.

Every time you are close to someone’s loss, it brings back your own familiar knowledge of grief. It’s an open door to that uncontrollable feeling that has nothing to do but run it’s course. You just ride it and feel it and let it subside again. With time you learn that it’s less debilitating each time you meet it. Feelings have their own way of forcing themselves through your life whether you want them to or not, have found coping mechanisms or not, try to ignore it and squelch it or not. They come through one way or another.

Over the years I have learned of friends losing family members, pregnancies, and learned sorrow over the students and children I have met through work. There are some brilliant kids out there who have conquered devastating and tragic family situations. But recently I learned of a very dear long ago friend who has lost a grown child. My heart has been breaking for her loss and her family all weekend. This same friend supported me at my own father’s funeral with her family in tow, baby and all. This same baby grew up to lose her own life and for that I am eternally and completely saddened.

This strong and resilient Mother has known her own grief in her life, but this is beyond what any parent should ever have to cope with. I know she will get through if nothing else for the sake of her other children who need her, but I am left feeling so helpless.

Grief changes you and it shifts with every new encounter. People react differently to you and with you and usually it’s a very uncomfortable experience. All anyone wants to do is absorb your pain. No one wants to see a loved one endure that much pain and anguish. It’s a very lonely road, grief. I imagine you can walk beside someone who is also experiencing it, but truly you have to process the loss on your own.

People always comment on someone’s strength during these times, and while it’s true, when you are going through it “strong” is the last thing you feel.

I pray for those that have lost loved ones this year. There are far too many and the circumstances in 2020 are quite dire. So much loneliness, so much anger, and so much divisiveness. I pray that memories of the everyday moments bring you peace. I pray you are surrounded by love and the gift of others’ memories of your lost soul. Find a new way to cope with the loss through laughter and wonder at the moments you didn’t know your loved one experienced until now. The grief you feel now is harsh and exhausting and seemingly infinite, but so is your love for this person. Your love never goes away.

The pain subsides eventually into a dull ache, but that love you have for this person wont. The light will certainly outlast the dark.

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