There are some beautiful things made of layers. Rock formations in both the Rocky Mountains and the gorgeous Grand Canyon area display the various kinds of minerals and rock in their layers. These formations stacked one upon the other are truly a sight to behold. Certain clothing styles exhibit uniqueness using layers of flowing material to flatter the model. Foods intrigue the taste buds and please the appetite with layers of delicious flavors begging to be explored and devoured.
The grief journey is made up of layers as well. While beautiful may not be the adjective used to describe this part of life, the layers do have purpose as you learn to live without the presence of a loved one. The order of the layers in grief is not always neat or clearly defined. Yet along the way, there are certain layers each grieving person will most likely encounter at some point in their journey.
When first presented with your loss, it is natural to want to deny the event. Shock tends to bring a numbness that is actually helpful in making it through the very early days of grief. Soon, however the second layer appears.
The pain of loss can be severe. It is felt not only emotionally – but can manifest itself physically as well. The inability to rest and sleep well takes a toll on the body. Fatigue contributes to your hurt and exhaustion is a real danger. I personally experienced a sudden weight loss in the first week – 25 pounds, which I did eventually gain back. However, I have heard that others tend to see a rise in their weight as they deal with loss. Either way, the body fights to adjust to the loss and pain.
At times when you reflect upon grief, you might consider doing anything in order to see your loved one again. Talking and trying to bargain with God is not unusual. When the desired response is withheld, feeling anger can be the next step. You are angry with the situation; angry with the person you feel is responsible for your loss; angry with God; angry with yourself for not being able to change things; and perhaps even angry with your lost loved one for “abandoning” you. There is no shame in anger – it is holding onto that anger and acting upon it that can later cause you regret.
As you are forced to move forward in your journey, you have time to reflect and evaluate your situation. Perhaps you face loneliness that none of your friends can understand. Living without your loved one is hard and you are unsure of how to proceed. Depression closes in and the world looks dark. While this is also a common stage or layer of grief, the severity of the depression and sadness should be monitored. If you find it difficult to get out of bed for days at a time or you feel desperate enough to make unwise decisions, please tell someone. Go to a church, tell a friend, or pick up the phone and call someone who will listen and share your burden. There is hope even when you cannot feel it.
This leads to the final layer of acceptance and hope. You will come to a point in your grief journey when your outlook on life is better. Joy will be felt again, in spite of what you have gone through. You will experience more good days than bad days.
Do not be alarmed if you find yourself revisiting a layer that you thought you had left behind. As I stated earlier, the journey is messy and a bit circular. It is not uncommon to re-experience sadness at certain times, even when you feel you have made progress in dealing with your new life.
Keep living, place your focus forward, and realize that the varying emotions you experience are the layers of your journey. Those layers will shape you into a beautiful person with an incredible, unique purpose.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
Until next time –
Grief Letters By Karen Bransgrove, Published by WestBow Press. You can order here.
Hardcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869674
Softcover | 6 x 9 in | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869667
E-Book | 114 pages | ISBN 9781490869650
Also available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble.