Our society expects everything to be fast and timely. We want a clear return on the investment of our energy, and nothing should be idle. Most people value their time and time management. They want good experiences and to feel like their time has been well spent. In all truthfulness, is the fast-paced approach always wrong? Isn’t there a time and place for efficiency? Yes; however, there is absolutely nothing efficient about grief.
Our society expects everything to be fast and timely. However, there is absolutely nothing efficient about grief.
The path from point A to point B in grief is often muddled and foggy. We experience something that we never wanted and certainly never requested. With all our might, we try to get through the feeling as quickly as possible. We attempt to numb and ignore the pain, simply speeding past the inconvenience of grief. We hold our breath, grit our teeth, and desperately push our way to the other side. We’ll do anything to not dwell in the discomfort.
The Desire to Move Past Grief
There is a strong urge to be efficient with our time and tears. To gain a sense of productivity, we may begin asking questions. How long will the pain last? How do we get over this loss? What is the point of my tears if they don’t change my circumstance? Unfortunately, the rush rarely—if ever—helps us. What if, however, the purpose of grief is not to get past anything? What if we grieve to bear witness to the gravity and value of what is lost?
I wonder what would happen if we invite grief to sit with us. We grieve because things are not as they should be. Instead of asking how to get past our anguish, we could ask what it looks like to lean into and move through it. Could we let it wash over us and trust that we won’t be washed away with it?
Leaning into Grief
Trauma and loss are like being thrown out of the comfort and safety of a ship at sea. Grief, on the other hand, is what comes once you are overboard. It is treading open water while waves crash over your head. You gasp for air, and exhaustion settles into your calves. You think this is undoubtedly going to be the thing that consumes you.
Grief is treading open water while waves crash over your head.
The waves do break. When the pause comes, we rest our legs, catch our breath, and gather our strength for the next wave. Simply willing the waves to stop hitting won’t lessen their impact, and trying to swim against them won’t get us ashore any faster. However, if we allow them to carry us, instead of fighting against them, we will find moments of peace. Don’t try to rush out of the water. Learn to rest. Don’t fear the waves of grief—waves lead back to shore. Take the liberty to be there for as long as there are waves to be felt.
Grief is not timely or efficient. So don’t trouble yourself with timelines and next steps. Take as long as you need because you are not wasting time. One day, however long from now, you will find that if you let them, the waves themselves will have carried you back to solid ground.
Lindsey Bandy Blodgett is a licensed professional counselor in Michigan. She takes a holistic and collaborative approach to leading adolescents and women towards freedom from anxiety, eating disorders, self-harm, adjustment issues, depression, sexual trauma, and grief. Blodgett graduated with a master’s in counseling from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary after receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Hope College.