The Gifts of Grief

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grief
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In October of 2022, my grandpa passed away. Losing him was a loss unlike anything I had ever known. And so was the grief. In therapy (everyone should go to therapy!), my therapist talked to me about how losing someone we are really close with can throw us into a space where we have a lot of questions and may rework how we think or do things. I have spent time in that space, and it was compounded even more by the sudden tragic loss of a family member who was my age right before Halloween. Altogether, it has been 15 months since my life shifted, and in that time, I have realized that with grief also comes some very precious realizations. I like to call them the gifts of grief.

We hear “life is so short” all the time, which had become just another saying to me. It wasn’t until my Papaw died that I really started thinking about how life IS very short, and we truly don’t have a clue when it will end. It may sound morbid, but I try to keep in mind that I only have this moment, as we all know that things can change instantly. I have been more intentional in how I spend my time and what it is that I am concerned about. The number one conviction for me in this area was social media. I often ask myself, “What really matters?” and try to base the downtime I have on doing the things that will really help me grow or rest or what it is that I need, as opposed to something that will make me feel worse about myself.

Grief has also taught me to become more brave. I am an anxious person naturally, so this one has been tough for me. The fact is, no one is going to push me. No one is going to be standing behind me, clapping with every baby step I take. I either need to do the thing or not. I can be scared. I can be uncomfortable. I can also gauge appropriately when something is just too big, and I need to step back. But I also know that when I am toeing the line between “should I or shouldn’t I?” more often than not, I need to take a deep breath and move. Looking back now, there are 100 things I would have done differently in my younger adult life, and I don’t want to look back 20 years from now and feel the same way. It’s time to focus on what I really want.

Finally, I am coming to terms with planning for the future. I very much struggle with missing out and I can be impulsive and want things done right away. As odd as it sounds, dealing with loss has also allowed me to take a step back and rethink my impulsivity and responsibility. Do I really need a new Stanley cup? No, I don’t (though I very much want it). If I can put aside my need of wanting something small now, I will be able to do something big later. This has been most evident for me financially. Not giving in to buying that Stanley cup, or going to Starbucks three times a week, or deciding I don’t really need those shoes allows me to take the finances I would have spent and set them back for something really important. We are currently saving to take our boys to the beach, a vacation we really need as a family. If I had to choose between small items that don’t have meaning and watching my kids run in and out of the ocean, I’d choose the ocean, hands down.

Grief creates a void in your soul and is crushing. However, there is also not one person alive who hasn’t dealt with a deep form of it. It can be exhausting and painful and require much recovery to be put somewhat back together again. However, in grief, we can also be more aware of our surroundings, who we are, and what we want to be. For that, I am thankful for the gifts grief has brought to me, and I hope as I continue to mourn, I also have a side of me that is happier, healthier, and a better mom and wife because of what grief has given me.

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