Grief Is An Unpredictable Ocean


Photo by Meenakshi Chauhan on Unsplash

Grief is an ocean. Sometimes peaceful and calm and other times angry and unsettled. Grief comes in waves.

As time goes on, the grief changes much like the ocean. The acceptance of the way things are is akin to the acceptance of the ocean as something that is always there but ever-changing.

It has been 11 years, well almost 12 years now, since my mother died. For many of those 11 years, my ocean of grief has been relatively calm with the waves only surfacing with birth dates, death dates, holidays sometimes. These waves have been relatively easy to ride out for many of these years.


These last few months with coronavirus, my ocean has taken on the characteristic of a tropical depression. Not quite a hurricane, but still strong enough to stir the ocean into a roiling reservoir of emotion and large, constant waves.

Working within the ever shifting landscape of death and fear with my clients daily has my own personal ocean moving a little more these days. My uncle died unexpectedly last week just a few years younger than my father currently is and it is adding to my ocean drop by drop.

It is a sobering thought that feels much like the experience of having a large ocean wave hit you in the chest and roll over you pushing you down and under, taking your breath.

My mother was very, very sick for a long time, many years before she died. She had diabetes and high blood pressure. She had several strokes from her forties on. She was on dialysis for years. When she died, her organs had shut down one by one and she was a shell of the woman she used to be racked with pain.

The last time I saw her, she was in hospice. She could not speak except to cry out in pain. They just kept upping her morphine to make her comfortable. I talked to her and told her that I loved her and that it was okay for her to go.

She could not talk to me but she looked at me in a few moments of lucidity and cried as I held her face close to mine and told her that I loved her.

I was the executor of things and had to leave the next morning to travel about an hour away to the funeral home location to make final preparations. On the way there, my brother called to tell me that my mother was gone.

I had years to prepare for this eventuality. Death was not a surprise and I was thankful she was no longer in pain or suffering. The initial grief was much easier to handle than this ocean 11 years later.


Clients come in on a daily basis worried about their own loved ones. Some have lost people this year to the virus, others know people who have died. Still others fear for their families and for themselves.

They are in grief for the normalcy of their lives. For the other things that have also been lost, scaled down weddings, barely attended funerals, and not being able to go and visit elders in nursing homes, or those who are hospitalized for different reasons.

Another wave, another ride.


As a clinical counselor, I know all the stages of grief. I know, clinically, all about the ocean and the waves. I work with clients every day to process these emotions.

It can be difficult to therapy yourself.

And so I continue to ride the waves, writing helps. Self-care helps. Acknowledging and accepting my ocean and knowing that the waves will subside as they always do will help.

The waves can wash over me and push me down in sadness and loss or they can lift me up to float in love and remembrance.

I love you mom.

2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Lucy
    Sep 01, 2020 @ 13:45:25

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on grief. Can be difficult to ride the waves. Remember that water asks us to release and then cleanses. So in the end we can be better buoyed in the calm waters. Not sure if you’ve read my article on grief? https://www.lucycrisetig.com/post/choosing-not-to-suffer

    Reply

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