Therapist Megan Devine, author of It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand (2017), offers on her Refuge in Grief website: “If your life has exploded into a million little bits, you don’t need platitudes. You don’t need cheerleading. You don’t need to be told this all happened for a reason. You certainly don’t need to be told that you needed your pain in order to learn something about life.”
What do you need instead (besides her book)? Perhaps her website—Refuge in Grief: Grief Support That Doesn’t Suck. The site has great info, including posts onhelping a grieving friend and surviving your own grief.
Devine lost her male partner to an accidental drowning when he was 39. Contrary to what our culture sometimes demands, she notes, “Grief no more needs a solution than love needs a solution.” Also, “Some things cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.”
Other selected quotes about grief from It’s OK that You’re Not OK:
The reality of grief is far different from what others see from the outside. There is pain in this world that you can’t be cheered out of. You don’t need solutions. You don’t need to move on from your grief. You need someone to see your grief, to acknowledge it. You need someone to hold your hands while you stand there in blinking horror, staring at the hole that was your life. Some things cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.
There is not a reason for everything. Not every loss can be transformed into something useful. Things happen that do not have a silver lining.
When you try to take someone’s pain away from them, you don’t make it better. You just tell them it’s not OK to talk about their pain.
Acknowledgment–being seen and heard and witnessed inside the truth about one’s own life–is the only real medicine of grief.
If you can’t tell your story to another human, find another way: journal, paint, make your grief into a graphic novel with a very dark storyline. Or go out to the woods and tell the trees. It is an immense relief to be able to tell your story without someone trying to fix it. The trees will not ask, “How are you really?” and the wind doesn’t care if you cry.
When someone you love dies, you don’t just lose them in the present or in the past. You lose the future you should have had, and might have had, with them. They are missing from all the life that was to be.
True comfort in grief is in acknowledging the pain, not in trying to make it go away. Companionship, not correction, is the way forward.