Conversations in Grief Blog: Turning a Corner
Turning a Corner
By Laura Wessels
I remember taking our kids to a scavenger hunt corn maze many years ago. We had to navigate many twists and turns around the maze, searching for clues to find our way out and win a prize. We came close to failing, and only by accident we found our way out of the maze.
That frustrating and humbling maze came to mind after a grieving wife shared in my grief support group that she believed she was “turning a corner” in her grief. It was her way of saying she thought she was getting a handle on her grief, that she was feeling better and not hurting as much. Group members responded to her observation. One daughter expressed that she felt she was turning the same corner over and over again. Another person talked about discovering a wall around the corner, the idea of feeling blocked in. And then someone else concluded that the journey of grief is “just a circle,” going around and around and getting nowhere.
Their conversation illustrated beautifully both the journey of grief and how we feel about our progress. In my February “Conversations in Grief” blog, I wrote about how I judged my grief after the death of my dad.
We expect our grief to be linear. That is, we expect our grief to move forward in a clear and organized way and then eventually come to an end. When it doesn’t work that way, we judge our grief and how we are feeling. When we don’t move forward or when we discover that our grief is not ending, we say things like, “I’m going backwards;” “I’m backsliding;” “I muddled through,” all things I’ve heard from people who are grieving.
Our grief really is a maze. We may find ourselves at the same corner on the same date every month, where some may huddle in the corner remembering the date that their loved one died. This is a lovely way to cope and pay attention to the date when everything in our world has changed.
Or, as the one-year mark of the death of our loved one approaches, we find ourselves back at the beginning of the maze reliving significant events from the last year: The date the doctor said there were no more options for healing. The date our person had to be moved to a care facility. The last words they said. The last words we said to them. Whether we were with them or not when they took their last breath. Remembering, revisiting, reliving an event, the death of a loved one, that left our world so empty.
Grief is not something that we get over.
Grief is not something that we walk away from.
Grief doesn’t end.
Because grief is love. May you keep discovering love for your person as you round the next corner of your grief.