Madie’s Top 5 Takes on … Grief

Words by Madieson (she/her), 24 WA

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Grief is something that everyone experiences in their life. It is something that I have dealt with a lot recently. But it has given me important insight into the grief process and how grief can look different depending on the circumstance.

I wanted to share my top five hot takes on how to handle grief, as I know that when grieving, you can feel so alone, and I just want to remind you that you are loved and there will always be someone there.

There are many different types of grief.

While grief can often be associated solely with the passing of someone, it is also important that we recognise the types of grief that exist. Yes, we experience grief when someone important to us dies, but grief can also include:

  • The loss of a pet/animal in our life
  • The disintegration of relationships (family/romantic)
  • The ending of a friendship

It is important to recognise, acknowledge and validate these different experiences of grief. I remember the emotions that I felt when I lost my first pet, my dog Jesse – the confusion, sadness and sense of hopelessness. These emotions were closely mirrored by the emotions that I felt when my nan passed away. Although in a different magnitude, these emotions are equally as important.

Grief is not a linear process.

Learning about grief in my psychology degree really opened my mind up to how old-school the beliefs about grief still are.

Both my psychology lecturer and the first counsellor I saw after the passing of my nan, used the most outdated method of the grieving process – the five stages of grief model. This model is not completely outrageous, but the belief that someone will go through clear, well-defined stages when they are grieving, is absolutely ludicrous to me.

The belief that once you have “moved” through the anger stage, you will never feel anger about the persons death again is something that I fundamentally disagree with. When my nan passed, I experienced denial, anger and depression all at the same time. I was so upset that she had left, I found it hard to motivate myself, and at moments, I completely avoided the idea that my nan had even passed. There are so many different emotions you feel at so many different times, and that is okay. It’s also important to remember that…

Everyone grieves in their own different ways.

Everyone has their own way of coping with what is going on for them. When it comes to the experience of grief, our personality and experience shape this. We all go through the process of grief, one step at a time, forwards and backwards, with our own unique experience It is so important that during this time, we offer no judgement to those that may be grieving. We are there to support them in whatever way they need. It is also important that throughout this process we are not putting pressure on ourselves to feel a certain way. That we are allowing ourselves to feel upset, frustrated, emotional and confused, and that it is okay to feel these emotions at any point during the grieving process.

It is okay to seek out help, to pull you through your grief. And remember you are not alone.

When I was 17, I remember sitting in bed and my mum came in to tell me that my cousin had suffered a fatal head injury while on holiday. I remember in this moment feeling as if all the light had been taken away from me. And barely a year after this experience, my nan also passed away. Before I had even begun to process my cousin’s death, my nan was also missing from my life.

This was an incredibly difficult time, I felt isolated and alone. I felt as if no one else was truly experiencing what I was experiencing. The grief I was experiencing had completed manipulated the way I was viewing the world.

Once I started sharing with my family how I was feeling, the thoughts I was having and as I begun to seek out a psychologist, I realised how many people were in the same boat as me. It showed me that the best way to get through this traumatic time in life is to stand together, to grieve together and to seek out help when needed.

Go with the ebbs and flows of all the emotions.

When you lose someone or something that is important to you in life, you are going to experience such a vast expanse of emotion. Reflecting on my own experiences of grief, I have experienced so many different emotions. I have felt anger, confusion, shock, sadness and depression.

However, as I have come to terms with what has happened, I have also experienced clarity, love and growth. These emotions do not exist in isolation of each other. I may remember a fond memory with my nan, and although this memory fills me with love, there is also a tinge of sadness.

And I’d like to point out another reminder that this is ABSOLUTELY OKAY!!!!! Any and every emotion you experience is valid and will come and go. I always find it is important to embrace these emotions and accept them, as this helps you move forward in your own grieving experience.

 

Illustration by Aileen. You can find more of her work on Instagram @aileenngstudio