When Does Grief End?

When Does Grief End

We are thrilled to re-post this article from Gemini Adams. She is an award-winning British writer, grief expert, and author of Your Legacy of Love: Realize the Gift in Goodbye. This piece originally appeared on Gemini’s website, www.realizethegift.com.


by Gemini Adams

It took me a very long time to integrate the loss of my mother. Perhaps this was because she died so prematurely, at just 48 years old, she was still a young person in the eyes of many. As for me, at 21, I was even younger.

We had only just learnt how to become friends — having battled through the highs and lows of my teenage years, just as we had come to see each other as allies, as women sharing similar challenges and interests — then she was snatched away. It wasn’t unexpected. Mom died from cancer and her death was a slow, long, drawn-out affair that took two and a half years, despite the fact that when she was diagnosed, she was given only three months to live.

The journey through grief was not an easy one. There were plenty of surprises, misty days, thunderstorms, and moments when the car slid down the road revealing a sheer cliff-face which had me frozen in a state of fear. But after a couple of years the bad weather cleared, blue skies burst through the monotonous grey, and there were occasional interludes of sunbeams, small but nonetheless brilliant.

Here are a few of the poignant ones:

  • When I realized I had heard the word Mom without my chest being flooded with searing pain and sickness.
  • The first year that I noticed I was actually excited about Christmas, rather than totally depressed.
  • When I was able to talk about Mom as if she was in the room, without fearing I would melt down into a blithering mess.
  • The day I went to Bhakti yoga and the tears didn’t roll down my face for the entire one and a half hours of the class.

Slowly the empty void that had replaced the warm place of my loving heart gradually filled, with new experiences, faith that things would improve and that new relationships would arrive, even if none of them could ever replace what I had lost. None of this happened overnight: it took three, four, five, even ten years, for some of the coins to drop.

Yet it began when I made a decision. Somewhere along the way I’d had enough. Grief had come into my life uninvited. Until it showed up, I’d been a happy-go-lucky person — I was sure this negative state didn’t fit my personality profile very well. So, I remember waking up one day and thinking: ‘Enough. This isn’t who I am. I don’t have to feel this way anymore. I’m choosing this and I can make another choice.’

Now, by this time I was pretty good at doing ‘grief’. Prior to losing Mom I’d also been good at joy, hope, trust, and laughter. So I wrote my Mom a note, telling her that it was time for me to remember her with love, but I was in need of a new beginning. I attached the letter to a beautiful red helium balloon, which I took to release at her graveside. As it floated heavenward against the clear blue sky, I drifted too, into a new place possibility, infused with healing, hope and happiness.

Thank you to Mohamad Itani for the use of his photo. Click here to see his Flickr photostream.

Tags: , , ,

3 Responses to “When Does Grief End?”

  1. Betsy Jane says:

    I’m not sure anyone who has lost a parent could read this story without feeling Gemini’s grief and remembering the tears welling at just the mention of a name. I tell my friends that only time will bring you past the depression and “searing pain and sickness” that Gemini describes. I remember the first year I was able to get through my mom’s birthday without a crushing sadness, the first time I was able to focus solely on my children on Thanksgiving, instead of grieving the loss of my dad. The idea of letting go of the grief in such a symbolic way, allowing the memories to become happy ones again will now become part of my counsel.

  2. Donna Rogers says:

    I don’t think grief ends. I lost my Dad two years ago this March. The pain is bad. I see my Mom missing Dad and her talking about how “he was here to watch that with last time”. The pain is still very strong. Part of me is gone, I don’t know if that part ever returns.

  3. Bill Scott says:

    Grief never ends…. That hole left by the death of someone you dearly love, a parent, grandparent, child, sibling, spouse and/or best friend can never be filled or patched, the pain will always be there. As humans we are all different and deal with grief in different ways, there is no right or wrong way, just your way and it shouldn’t be judged by others. I lost my father at 14 and now at 46 the pain of his death still hurts, although I manage it, it still hurts just as much today. The same is true for the other close family and friends I have loved and lost. Maybe I just need help? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t sit around and let it consume me or think poor me nor let it impact my ability to function, I move on with life but I still have the hole, it hurts and unfortunately (for me) it always will. Sorry, for some reason I felt the need to share my unsolicited thoughts with some strangers today… 🙂