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Patience and Grief

jstevenson | Journeys through Grief

There is just no way around it. Grieving sucks. It is challenging, difficult, life-changing in all the ways that it grabs a hold of us. It is uncomfortable, disconcerting, and exhausting. When we are in the deep end, it is everywhere. It is the filter through which everything comes to us, the lens through which we see. No place is safe, no thought is without the spike of our person’s absence.

Much of what we are conditioned to do when we are in pain is to get out of it. We want relief as quickly as we possibly can. You may remember the old jingle, “Plop, plop. Fizz, fizz. Oh, what a relief it is” and its promise for an immediate cessation of your heartburn. If only there were such a tablet for the heartburn that is grief.

As much as we may want to escape the emotional rollercoaster, physical impact, and cloudy, foggy mind that is impossible. Avoiding the daily journey of grief is not a part of the process. It is something that must be tended, addressed, and struggled with within the moments and experiences that arise. That means that we must have patience and remain with our grief while our hearts and our mind sort out this process.

The word patience has been in our vocabulary for a long time. It has elements of adversity, misfortune, and suffering. But what keeps it from just being abusive is that those words are paired with “willingness to bear” and “endurance.” [1] There is a quality of expansiveness and strength that is inherent within the concept of the word.

Patience provides us the strength to support ourselves as we walk our journey of grief. The patience to be with our experience sends roots down into the soil of life, grounding us for the inevitable times of strife and uncertainty that living will bring to us in the future. It promotes a willingness to wait until the right time and the right action come together. This means that we trust ourselves and trust our hearts. We trust it to know what it is doing in our grief, that the different ways that grief expresses itself within us are bound to the relationship we had with our person who died. And we trust our heart enough that it will do what it needs to do to find new ways to connect to our person now.

Patience builds the relationship with our person that we still have and will in the future. Our willingness to be with our grief process and not seek to escape it becomes the passageway to the rest of our life. Which is a life lived with our person as a part of who we are. Never forgetting them nor leaving them behind.

[1] Online Etymology Dictionary, “patience”. Accessed September 8, 2021.