What They Never Tell You About Grief: How You Can Grow From It And Become Happier Because Of It

I’ve heard that grief is like a roller coaster, constantly twisting and turning with highs and lows. I’ve also heard that grief comes in five stages. I’ve spent hours searching for information regarding these stages, along with other symptoms of the grieving process. Though some findings have offered me a sense of solace, others have just left me feeling more lost, more anxious and, at times, even crazy.

I’ve never approached grief with open arms; generally I avoid it at all costs. Unfortunately, I’ve found that grief is not a choice. It’s impossible to choose to turn it on and off. Grief has its own schedule and is unpredictable in nature. Different situations and experiences will possess different triggers and repressors of grief.

Grief is like an infant. If you nurture it and feed it at the right time every single day, you’ll be able to lay it to rest every night, safely and soundly. You’ll be able to close your eyes and drift away at a decent hour with enough sleep to prepare you for the next unpredictable day ahead. But an infant never stays asleep for long; it will wake you up in the middle of the night screaming and squirming, and you will have no choice but to tend to it.

It is a part of you and your responsibility; it’s your breathing and beating extension. As time goes on, that infant will grow. It will bring you some of the best, most beautiful days of your life and probably some of the most difficult, trying days, too. But you care for it because you know in your heart that there is no alternative.

I cannot separate myself from my grief. There is a line drawn in the sand of my life separating “before it happened” and “after it happened.” I can’t control when my grief chooses to act up and when it chooses not to do so. Sometimes, I’ll just be folding a pair of socks and my grief will unexpectedly present itself. Other times, I’ll be laughing loudly at the dinner table amongst my family when I’ll hear it wake up and start screaming. It’s unpredictable, but I’ve learned to live with it.

Grief will take much away from you; it’s undeniable. It will sneak up on you while you're laughing, while you’re relaxing or when you’re in the middle of the busiest day of your year. It will pick and pull at you and leave you feeling helpless, confused, angry, depressed, hopeless and, sometimes, apathetic. But you're never told that grief also gives you more than you can ever imagine.

My grief has given me fearlessness. It has given me a sense of appreciation for the peaceful moments and a stronger sense of self-assuredness that I can conquer the weaker ones. Through my grief, I’ve restructured and built some of the best friendships of my life, found light and grace in people that I never would have expected. I've developed a deep belief in the true, innate goodness that all people possess.

Grief will make you feel raw and naked and will force you to consider every other human as raw and naked, too. You will learn to understand that brute strength is only reached through the acknowledgement of absolute vulnerability. And most importantly, grief will make you believe: in God, heaven, friendships, spirituality or reincarnation.

My grief is mine. I hold it close to me. I cradle it every night before I go to sleep and give it constant care so that it can help me grow to be the best possible version of myself. Despite every heartbreak and hopeless moment that it gives me, my grief is mine. My grief will take different moments from me than yours will from you. Your grief will break parts of you that I may be able to keep in tact. Grief will break us down in different ways, but it will always offer to build us back up, if we allow it to do so.

Grief, like a child, must be appreciated and loved despite the rough times and bad days it creates. Grief will take and grief will give, but what we often forget to acknowledge is perhaps what we already know: Grief will make you feel. It will force you to live, so open your heart and let it work.

Photo credit: Ibai Acevedo, click here to see more awesome photos.