Insights on Grief
that have been helpful to me and to others.
from Phyllis Davies
Grief is a journey, NOT a destination, that brings an ending.
In the ongoing healing process we can become more compassionate
and genuine individuals. Hopefully, we encounter others who can listen,
and resources that serve as catalysts in our healing.
The metaphor of being lost and wandering in a range of unfamiliar
mountains of emotion during the grief process often helps individuals
to see — and feel — the need to get
help from effective grief counselors and/or grief support groups.
Life sometimes suddenly transports us to new growing ground —
a seed sprouts and soon has blossoms, a chick leaves an egg, a cocoon
releases a butterfly. Grief can be a growth experience.
Death, and even illness, force us to look at and reframe what we consider
to be life, and what is important in life.
One day, I realized that what I was unknowingly holding on to was
NOT my loved ones but the pain which had replaced them in
my life. Once that realization hit me, it was relatively
easy to let go of the pain and refocus on the love, memories and
joy they brought into my life. This allowed me to say good-bye and
let those I love re-enter my life in some beautiful and deeply connected
Grief is a time of rebuilding identity and is experienced not
only when death occurs, but as and after one leaves a house that has been
a home, or a relationship or a job, or when children leave home for kindergarten
or college, when a beloved pet dies. Grief can occur with a marriage, as well
as during and after divorce, financial loss or ruin or with the loss of a home.
We must honor and work through our grief or it will not let us rest.
Unprocessed grief keeps us from going forward in life and blocks our
joy in living.
Grief is a healing process which connects the present with the past
and can eventually offer joy and new meaning in one's life.
It took me a long time to realize that I will always have my children, my mother
and others I have loved who have died; they never leave my heart. There
are still pain-filled moments, yet now they do not last so long.
Acceptance is a choice and is necessary for survival and going on
in a positive way.
regards to our baby and his death the day he was born, I find I now
focus not on the loss but on the privilege of having and carrying Dylan for the months he was with us.
[It makes sense to me that, with God's help, Dylan's soul selected
our family to help heal a wound he was carrying. He needed to heal
before he could continue his life journey. It was my blessing to
carry and nurture him in the months I knew him. I now know that
he simply needed to know, without a doubt, that he was loved and wanted.
Somehow, knowing that he was loved completed something for him and he was
free. Our love gave him what he needed. This concept may not work for anyone
else, but it is where I have come to be at peace with his death.]
The above thought has been healing to many who are grieving a pre-natal
and neo-natal death
of children, as well as in many other types of bereavement.
I cannot place the blame for any lack of productivity in life on
the death of our sons. That would be a triple tragedy.
There is a deep bond — which often needs no words — with others
who have had loved ones die.
One of the privileges of grief is to be able to help others who
are struggling. Those just starting the journey need to know that
they too can survive the grief process. Connecting with
someone who had survived the climb gave me the gift of hope. There
is a gentle joy in passing this gift of hope to others.
Part of my motivation in global issues is related to my own experience
of having two of our three children die. In my international travel to promote
justice, health, dignity and improved agriculture, I've met bereaved parents in remote villages
at the top of the Bolivian Andes and in the African bush and the deepest jungles of Indonesia;
their grief is no less than mine. There is an instant bond that is deeply meaningful — see the piece
"Bonded," page 47 in Grief: Climb Toward Understanding.
is always risk in raising children. Even if I knew the outcome —
the death of two of our three children — I would take the risk
of having children again.
is helpful to talk with, or read the story of, someone who has walked
this difficult road of grief and has reconnected with life and hope.
Addedly, as in divorce, the emotional cost of the experience multiplies if one blames their lack of self-worth on the tragedy.
of us knows people who have not grieved fully and have paid for
it with ill health and other reactions. Anger and self-produced
guilt often combine with attachment to the pain of loss. This can
create enormous personal tragedy and may result in a lifelong lack
of full productivity and peace, if not illness.