I sat across from my good friend and trusted counselor, Hugh, to pour my heart out over the death of Julie, the love of my life. He said, “ Grief comes in waves. At first, the waves overwhelm you and force you to the ground. They come one after another with no let up. They crash in on us out of control smashing everything in their wake. They cover us and drown everything else out.” He paused long enough for me to acknowledge that this was where I was, in a storm with ceaseless barrages of waves of grief.

Then he said, “You must go ahead and feel these waves. Let them knock you down. But understand that in time the waves will become smaller and further apart.” Looking into my troubled soul he added, “They will never go away. From time to time, a wave of grief will return, brought on by who knows what, but that is part of the process.’’

Even as I write this today, a wave of grief returns for Julie. I will continue with this process until it begins for me by my loved ones.

I think that we expect to get “through it.” We say “I just don’t know how I will get through this. I can’t go on like this.” Be reassured that you do not have to get through it. The waves will get smaller and further apart. They will never go away completely and you would not want that.

Grief, I think it truly takes a lifetime to deal with losses. The grief does not just come to an abrupt end when we are over it.

I see people stuck after years of struggle. Letting those waves wipe you out will start the process. Feel the loss.

Feel the sadness. Believe that your heart is truly breaking. These feelings will continue long after others say that you should be over it. Recognize that it is pain that comes, but it will not always come as often or intensely.

Many authors have written about grief. They describe the process in words like shock, disbelief, anger, sorrow, and acceptance. No one has pretended that these emotions come in a straight line toward healing. But Hugh’s metaphor of grief as waves provides me with a real understanding and becomes my comfort to others as they deal with their losses.

Copyright © W. Cooper Murphy 2008 All rights reserved.