Chatting over a cup of hot tea, hiking through gardens, listening to a concert and scavenging for antiques – are all activities that I enjoy. What’s even better is doing these activities with someone I care for. Spending time together is my love language.
What’s your “love language?” You might feel affection by getting gifts, receiving a love note, sharing a good bear hug, or having your loved one help you with chores, etc. These actions may scream “I love you” to you.
Interesting that we each receive love differently.
If we each experience love differently, why wouldn’t we each react differently when someone who we love dies? Either to bodily death or permanent loss of the relationship?
It’s interesting that grief over a “love ending” isn’t talked about nearly as much as the joy of love beginnings.
Because we typically don’t discuss grief in our culture, I think there’s denial about the ways that grief impacts each one of us.
We freely discuss sorrow at wakes and funerals. But, then it’s like the timer runs out and the sympathy spigot turns off the days or weeks after a funeral.
Life goes on.
Long-term grief becomes an unspoken topic.
For the griever, hurt and pain are harsh realities. As time marches on, fewer people ask “Are you hurting?” as days, weeks and years pass. (And loss is not only about physical death. Losses through divorce, break-up, illness, layoffs, moves are real and painful too.)
So, we place our sadness deep inside – moving it into one place in our hearts. The problem is that the grief finds its way out. When it does, it looks different for each one of us. Active grieving is not a cookie cutter experience. Our unique response to heartbreak may confuse, anger or isolate our friends and family.
What’s your grief language?
For me, grief waves comes as tiredness. Remember your first love and how much energy you had being around that person? For me, grief creates the opposite. If I’m thinking of the person who I lost – I get tired. As a result, it affects family and friends because I’m not as relationally proactive as I was prior to losing my daughter. It’s harder for me to initiate the “time together” part of my love language.
It complicates my life experience; it’s hard to ask for what I most need. It takes someone else reaching out to me – to counteract the grief tiredness. They kind of “wake me up.”
Recently, I spent several hours with loving moms who lost their children. It was clear, very quickly, that our experiences with grief are different. We listened deeply to one another’s stories, cried freely and supported one another unconditionally. When I left, I was refreshed – and tired at the same time.
How do you experience grief?
- Do you also get tired?
- Would you rather be alone?
- Do you need to be with people constantly?
- Do you find that you get angry quicker?
- Do you need hugs more often? Less often?
- How does hearing your loved one’s name affect you?
- Are you more compassionate? Less compassionate?
- Does music soothe you?
- Does it help you to talk about your circumstance and the person who you miss?
As a first step, I’m learning that I need to know myself – even five years after losing my daughter. I’m pausing. Realizing the way long-term grief impacts me – helps me move forward.
The second step is sharing the impact of my broken heart with family and friends. Doing so makes me honest and humble.
I find that life is so much better when I’m open – and not putting others in a position of guessing about my behavior or needs.