Grief Story: The Importance of Sharing Your Loss

Throughout our lives, we love to tell stories. Telling our children about the day they were born, or how their Mommy and Daddy met. We love to tell funny stories, old stories, and sad stories… but the one that may be most important to share: your grief story.  Grief Story

You may not have ever called it that, but a grief story is something every griever has and it’s one of the most important parts of the bereavement process.

I find for most the grief story follows a familiar pattern:

  • The events preceding and just leading up to the diagnosis or event – this is important because it will forever be the last time the griever feels they were living sort of blissfully unaware of the illness and loss that was about to consume their lives
  • For a long term illness- the days, diagnosis, procedures and appointments that followed – even someone with a bad memory seems to be able to remember every step of their loved one’s illness…what doctor they saw, the prognosis they were given, and when and where surgeries were performed
  • And for both sudden loss and loss after a long term illness- the phone call or discovery – this is the official moment where everything changed forever. Regardless of what type of loss, most grievers will report feeling shock and numbness. Every detail of not just this day, but this moment, will stay etched in a griever’s memory. And for some, the sights and sounds associated with this moment, this loss, or the days leading up to it, can cause an almost post-traumatic stress.

I once ran a support group where I asked everyone to go around, say their name, who they lost, how recently, and some circumstances surrounding their loss. I’ll admit, I expected a 30-second or so introduction that would go something like, “my name is Janet, and I lost my husband to prostate cancer back in July”. But what followed was something totally different. As each person went around they said their name, who they lost and how recently…but they also shared a very detailed narrative that described the timeline leading up to the loss itself.

An hour and a half after we started, the last person had shared their grief story, and I realized our meeting never quite got past the introductions. Though I went in with an agenda and had things I planned to discuss that day, it was clear that one of the most healing things they could do that day was just talk about their loss, and share that story.

Those who haven’t experienced a significant loss may not understand that a lot of grievers feel almost compelled to tell their grief story, however unpleasant that may seem.

I’ve spoken to so many grievers and seen this pattern repeated so many times that I realized that sharing this grief story is not just the result of a talkative griever, but an absolute necessity for some. What’s interesting is the repetition to it and the sense you get that even if you’re hearing it for the first time, they’ve shared it many times (or that they have repeated it in their own heads over and over).  It is almost unintentionally rehearsed, like a speech or a message… like it’s something they just have to get out and say.

So why would this be? If telling stories usually brings to mind the joyful memories we like to share, why would anyone want to talk about something so hard and so painful?

In loss, there is simply so much to comprehend. So for some, it may be a way to process what has happened.

In a long term illness, there is a lot of new information coming in at once. Doctors visits, medications prescribed, changing prognosis. And the stress level and the stakes are so high, I find a lot of grievers are still trying to process everything that occurred during their loved one’s illness…even after they are gone.

And for those with a sudden loss? I won’t say it’s worse, but as I’ve said before, it’s different. Bottom line, with a sudden loss there was just no time to mentally prepare for what life would be like without a loved one in it.

So the grief story helps. While it may be incredibly painful, we need to take time to reconcile in our minds what has happened. I won’t call it acceptance, necessarily, as for so many that implies assent. But most grievers realize that if they have any chance of moving forward, it’s only going to be if they can have an opportunity to talk about their loss and make room in their reality for this unbelievable loss.

Because the disbelief lasts longer than we’d think. The direction our life took, the things that were supposed to happen that didn’t or never will…the only way to even begin to understand that is in the re-telling of the grief story.

For most, friends and loved ones are great in the beginning. But a lot of grievers will tell me that over time they feel like they’re saying the same thing to the same people… “I can’t keep burdening my kids with this,” or, “I just don’t think my friends want to hear this anymore”.

And that’s where finding our peers comes in. We usually think of peers in school-age terms, something that signifies an association based on age, similar interests and experiences. But finding our peers is important in all parts of life. In fact, I often say that later in life it’s even more important.

In loss, it’s about finding those with whom we have our grief in common. It’s about finding those who will listen to our grief story and show us that we’re not alone. We’re not “crazy”. This loss happened and every day we’re trying to figure out how to process it. Sharing our story can help…

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There’s a reason why our main forum is titled “See & Share Stories“, because we recognize just how important that is. We would love for you to join us, and connect with others who will understand.

And finally, even though our website is designed to connect those who are grieving, and we believe strongly in the bonds grief can create, we recognize how different everyone is, and how unique coping styles can be. 

If you’re not a talker, if you’re not a group person, or if you feel that it’s just too painful and too private to share, write it down. Put these thoughts on paper. You’ll be amazed what it feel likes to get it out, and to see how much this type of purge can help.

 

7 thoughts on “Grief Story: The Importance of Sharing Your Loss”

  1. My husband passed away on October 23, 2016, after a fall in our bedroom, he was in the hospital for 4 days on life support… It was an accident and it devastated me and the whole family… His sisters actually accused me of killing him and the following weeks were horrible…!!! We were living in Indiana at the time, so I had to pack everything up and put into storage, as I drove back to California to live… My life is a mess…!!!

  2. I have written my story covering 23years as caregiver for my husband, the before, during, and after. It was not always easy to write, but I felt driven to do so. I am hoping to get it put together ( published?) so my children and grandkids might better understand me.

  3. Many people are not comfortable listening to the griever talk about their loved ones passing. Some family and friends actually tell the griever to not think about it. They say think happy thoughts, don’t cry. This happened to me after my mother died.

  4. I lost my oldest son on August 25,2018, he was only 24. It is still so raw, everyday I am consumed with thoughts of him. I still cry everyday, the if only’s are the hardest !

  5. I lost my middle son a month after his 18th birthday, to gun violence, he was a innocent bystander in a gang shooting. He was on his last year in high school with a scholarship to go to the Marine corps, he was shot by accident and left on my front porch dying, and was found by his younger brother, he was still wearing his JROTC uniform. His killer is still out there somewhere, we pray everyday for justice

  6. I have a purpose

    Have you ever thought that you can’t wait to move out of your parents house when your old enough well maybe you should rethink that,and if that still on your mind this story should change that.lets go back to when I was first really happy when I was about four.I always had so much fun and I enjoyed spending time with My family
    I remember my dad left one day and I would always ask mom where he is. mom would always say he would be back soon little did I know she was just trying to not make me worry.After a while I met my aunt and uncle, “do want to come see our apartment in Iowa,”they asked me and I only said yes because I wanted to be nice
    And my mom knew that that why she told them to ask me that.I still don’t exactly know why she sent me away though.I went to live with them and at first it was kinda nice.I was the kind of kid that got in trouble every now and then,but they took my punishments too far,they would beat me with a belt.They also got two full bottles of diet soap up in the air and if a put my hands down they would hit me with a belt.I didn’t really like that.Soon I went to go visit mom and I found out she was dating someone new at the time.I was really happy to finally have a new dad.We had a lot of the same hobbies but I had to go back to Delaware. Didn’t tell mom about what was happening because I was scared they would do something to me.So it went on like that for two years until something pushed me to the edge.One day I was talking about mom new boyfriend and I called him dad,but I guess didn’t like that and told me not to call him dad.I went into my room and called my mom I told her about it.”is there anything else honey,”mom murmured.I told her about everything.so she said “don’t worry I’m sending someone to get you,”she shouted.Apparently she told called them next.And they were mad,but they didn’t do anything because they knew I would call her again.They were acting weird afterwards.They just being way too nice.Soon mom’s boyfriend picked me up and took me home.Everything was nice,I soon found out his name.Not sure why I didn’t know it yet after all he was with my mom for a year,not sure if it matters,but his name was Antonine Soon mom got married to him.Everything was fun from there was fun. I loved it so much and I wished it would never end,but some things never last.I woke up one morning and saw mom wasn’t feeling well so she went to the hospital I thought everything would be fine so I carried on with my day and went to sleep later that night.I woke again the next morning and almost all my family was there in the living room , I was wondering what was happening,but I didn’t see mom there and went into her room and my stepdad,my aunt, and my godmother was there.After thinking it hit me and I burst out into tears.
    “Wait he already knows”said Antonine,and I nodded.In case you still haven’t figured it out,she was dead,but I knew I’d still have step dad right?Nope wrong he didn’t have to paperwork that says he’s officially my dad yet,but I found out later that not all hope was lost.Remember my real dad from before?They found him so I went there.My dad picked me up and we and we came here to iowa,I was really mad at him for just leaving but he had a good reason he was in the military,still he should have told me.on the thirty hour drive I had nothing to do I was really boring.After forever we were there and someone picked us up.Her name was Sarah who reminded me a lot of mom.I was wondering where I would live,but apparently we were going to stay with Sarah.After that everything was nice there was a dog,I was with my dad again,and I met Sarah,but something was missing.Mom was My missing piece and without that Piece everything wasn’t the same.To make matters worse my dad starting acting weird and was being aggressive.He started leaving a lot on the weekends and I would hang out with Sarah.One day dad said he was going to get milk but never came back.Someone soon found him in a hotel and me and Sarah went to see him,but when I walked into the room he pushed me and slammed the door.A few more days went by and sarah told me I can’t stay much longer because she didn’t have to money to take care of me and that was dad’s job.Then she told me that her grandparents would take care of me but she would visit every Wednesday.I went there and at first I loved it,but I still missed my mom.Now I am in middle school and I don’t really like it.There is a lot of nice people but the was too hard for me.Then I started to have Suicidal thoughts,but I have a lot of nice people to help me and it’s getting better.Now it’s just me,depression and stress.Im have trouble dealing with it,but I have a feeling I’m going through this for a reason,and that I have a purpose.I just need to figure out what that is.

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