Grief Doesn’t End With the Last Sympathy Card

Time to move on…to snap out of it.  Life goes on and so must we.  This is the type of thinking some of us subscribe to when another person loses a loved one.  We understand—to a degree—the sadness.  Yet we reason that at some point, the person just needs to move past the grief.


Our capacity for compassion oftentimes has its limits…especially if we haven’t experienced the same type of loss as someone else.  Maybe we don’t know what it’s like to be a widow or the only people we’ve ever lost were acquaintances.


If I were to be honest, my thinking has been pretty close to the “Okay, let’s get back to living life.”  I understood the hurt and was there to offer a listening ear or a word of comfort.  But once I sent off the sympathy card, it just kind of ended there.  In a way, it’s as if I believed the grief ended just because the last card was sent…or the last meal was brought…or the last sentiments of “I’m so sorry for your loss” were uttered.


That all changed over a year ago when I lost my dad.  Although I’ve attended many funerals for people I loved and cared about, this one hit me in a way unlike any other.  The initial stages of grief were like a sucker punch.  It would sometimes come in waves.  And it has lasted a long, long time.


I learned that my grief didn’t end with the last sympathy card I received.  The sentiments stopped.  But my heart continued to ache.  To this day, it hurts to think of my dad no longer being here.  The way I’ll never hear the words, “Hi Sweetie” or wrap my arms around him for a hug.


Just when you think the grief process has reached its conclusion, it all comes crashing down upon you.  It could be a holiday, a memory, a commercial, a song, running across an old picture—all sorts of things that remind you of that loved one.  The waves of grief don’t have time limits.  It can happen in the days, weeks, months or years following the loss.


Grief doesn’t really end…because how do you “get over” losing someone you loved dearly?  No, I may not feel the same devastation I did at the beginning.  And the days of crying are much, much less.  Until I’m reunited with my dad, I’ll forever miss him.


My thinking has definitely changed.  Or should I say, my understanding of loss has changed.  Compassion no longer has a limit.  I know that grief doesn’t end with the last sympathy card.



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