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  • Writer's pictureElizabeth Leon

So this is what grief looks like today

Updated: Mar 16, 2022

One of the hardest things about being a thinker, speaker, and writer on grief is that I am in (and will always be in) grief. I may have workshops or writing or planning to do, but grief doesn't always understand or respect the schedule.

Grief, with all its ebbs and flows and seasons and storms, is always with me. Sometimes playing quietly in the corner, sometimes needing a lot of care and attention, and sometimes out of control.

Much like having a newborn that slowly and painstakingly grows into a mature young adult, my grief has changed. In the early days, grief was a beast that demanded constant attention, that could never be left alone and whose needs I could hardly predict. Over the last 4 years, my grief has been soothed and cared for enough so that she can rest quietly for extended periods of time. Grief can come to the table and tell her story without completely unraveling.

But I have learned, in time, to respect my grief and the unique place she holds in my heart and my body: an inner companion, the uninvited guest that has become family and fills the sacred space where my baby once was and where my love for him always will be.

And like all the other parts of me, grief has needs and limits. Sometimes I can anticipate them and be prepared -- like January 4th or January 5th or Christmas or Mother's Day. Sometimes grief responds to other stressors or sadness in my life by reminding me that she feels hurt too. And sometimes, out of the blue, a dark day comes my way when grief needs to have her say, when her slow and steady tears become a raging river that overflows its banks and sweeps me and the plans of the day into the force of its current, all of us helpless together until the torrent becomes a creek becomes a stream becomes a brook and I can safely and gently step back onto the banks of my life, drenched and exhausted.

I do not blame grief for this upheaval. I thank her for holding my longing for John Paul Raphael. For being a beacon and guide to surrender to the beauty and sorrows of love. For reminding me what truly matters is not what I have done but how I have been. For teaching me the art of self-compassion and self-acceptance. For inviting me to not judge myself or others for needing kindness, care, and attention. For urging me to let myself be loved.

So this what grief looks like today.

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