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Riding the Waves: A Story on Grief

March 23, 2018

Loss and grief are some of the most challenging circumstances to be present with in life. I have found time after time listening to those in pain saying, “I should be over this by now.” Many of us are aware of the Kübler-Ross model identifying 5 stages of grief. These are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Modified models also include shock- initial reaction in hearing the bad news and testing in which individuals attempt to find a realistic solution. While awareness of some universality can be supportive or helpful, it still doesn’t provide ongoing comfort.


Years ago I came across the following post. For me it resonated deeply…. not only for myself, but also in the stories and struggles I have heard from others. I share an excerpt of it now, in hopes that it too will provide some small relief and ease the vulnerability and helplessness we experience with loss.


From Redditor GSnow in Upvoted:


“As for grief, you'll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you're drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it's some physical thing. Maybe it's a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it's a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive. In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don't even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you'll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what's going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection; the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything...and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life. Somewhere down the line, and it's different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O'Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you'll come out.

The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don't really want them to. But you learn that you'll survive them. And other waves will come. And you'll survive them too.”


I hope this will not only help to ride out the waves but to know it will be okay, even when you don’t feel like it will.




About the Writer: Jessica Pladsen, LMFT



Jessica has experience working with anxiety, anger management, depression, relational and attachment issues, child and adolescent behavioral issues, and trauma.



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