Tunnels, like the one pictured here, are designed to help us move more efficiently through rough terrain. As you can see from this picture, it would be impossible to drive around or above this tunnel. You must go through it to get where you are going.
The same thing is true of grief. If you want to heal from it, you must go through it, not around it. In that way, grief is a lot like a tunnel. Some tunnels are longer and some are shorter. Some are curved and some are straight. Some of you have already entered into your tunnel, while others are just at the entrance and are wondering how to start.
The place to start is by embracing the reality that our loved one has died, and admitting that we need to grieve. Once we allow ourselves to grieve, we need to understand that grief is a journey – a process. It is not over and done with all at once. We need to continue to put one step in front of another, and walk this journey one step at a time. Grief cannot be rushed. It is a longer process than any of us would like to admit.
The bad part about a tunnel is that it is dark. The good part, is that once you have entered into that tunnel, you are already on your way out.
Another important fact about the grief journey is that everyone’s pathway through grief is unique. Just because one person responded in one way, doesn’t mean you will respond the same.
Unfortunately, some people will try to get you to grieve the way they did, or they will try to rush your grief – to hurry you along. When they do that, it can be very hurtful.
Along the journey of grief, it is normal for you to feel like you are doing well and moving forward, and then all of a sudden to have your emotions hit rock bottom. The reality is, grief doesn’t follow a direct route. It often feels more like riding a roller coaster, with all the ups and downs.
There might be times, along the journey, when you feel like your grief will never end – like the weight will never be lifted. It is okay to feel that way. Most people say those feelings do not last forever. It is important, at that time, however, to not give up. Time alone will not heal your grief. You must intentionally keep walking/ working through your grief.
The best thing you can do is to be honest and real with what you are feeling and experiencing. Allow yourself to express your grief and to cry. We all cry – some do it outwardly, and some do it only on the inside. Either way, those tears are a gift from God.
Remember also to become involved with others. We need other people to listen to us, to validate us, and to encourage us. Find a supportive friend or family member – or call on Don or one of our “Certified End of Life Coaches.”
Walking through the dark tunnel of grief is never easy. Let me encourage you today and remind you that there is light at the end of the tunnel…. So keep on walking….