What is Grief?  

Contributed By: Samantha Porte

Everyone will experience it at one time or another, we have a hard time putting it into words, and it is both simple and complex. So, what is grief? Grief is what we feel after   the loss of something, whether it be the death of someone in your life, a relationship, a pet, a job. Grief can come in many forms, and we can mourn and experience the loss in many ways.  

When we talk about grief, we are most often talking about the death of someone in our life. You will also notice that we say the word “death” which can be hard for people. We name it and give ourselves permission to not “dance around” words, and therefore allow ourselves to feel whatever is coming.  

Grief is different for every single person and every single scenario. You may experience a range of emotions dependent on many factors. We tend to assume that if we grieve for something it means we had a good relationship with what we are grieving. This isn’t always the case, making the emotions more complicated and the feelings surrounding the death or loss more complex.   

In grief, nothing is assumed, nothing is certain, and everyone can grieve regardless of the relationship. 

It’s hard to describe grief because, like we said, it’s so different for everyone and every situation. Grief is hard work and so unique to each person and to each loss. This makes it hard to talk about, and sometimes makes it hard for people to know how, what, or when they should be feeling things. We just want to let you know that there is no timeline, there is no set of emotions you “should” be feeling, and whatever you need on whatever journey you take- that’s your individual path.  

Grief can be complex, messy, beautiful, memorable, insightful, infuriating, hopeless, and many things in between. Our grief journey is our own, our emotions are our own, and it is not up to society or anyone in our lives to dictate what that looks like for us.  

Here are some quotes that may or may not resonate with you or someone you may know on a grief journey: 

“Grief changes shape, but it never ends.” 
Keanu Reeves 

“Time heals old pain, while it creates new ones.” 

“Honest listening is one of the best medicines we can offer the dying and the bereaved.” 
Jean Cameron 

“Our grief is as individual as our lives.” 
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross 

“The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?” 
Edgar Allan Poe 

“Death ends a life, not a relationship.” 
Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie 

Grief and reflection can be heavy and confusing. Take some time and check in with yourself. How are you feeling? Where is your grief sitting in your body? Is there something kind you can do for your body and mind? If this is someone you know, you can let them know they are not alone.