I don’t think she knew the sting or impact of her words as she said, “Stop grieving and get out there and start a new life.” She must be untouched by grief’s impact or surely she wouldn’t have made a statement so lacking in compassion and grace. And if she has known the profound influence of grief, she appears to be one of the lucky ones. The ones that hold a faith so strong and grit so fierce, they can continue on, unscathed and unbroken.
I’m not one of those souls. I grieve and I grieve hard, though harsh might be a better depiction.
Her words said ‘stop grieving’, as if it’s a choice I make each day or even each minute. I never choose to walk into a grocery store and find myself in tears while eyeing the almond extract, knowing it was my mother’s secret ingredient. I never choose to crumble to pieces when my children have someone missing each “Grandparent’s Day” at their local elementary school. I never choose to lose my breath when I’m out and about and someone walks past me wearing the perfume my mother wore her entire life.
Grieving has never been an active choice. It simply showed up the moment before my mother passed and it has stayed ever since.
Her words said, “get out there and start a new life.”, as if the moment my mother died a new life didn’t already form. Immediately I received a new life– one I didn’t want, and one I wouldn’t wish for anyone else, especially someone my age. The day my mother took her last breath a completely new life and future found me. I live that life and reality every single day, choice or not.
While this woman’s words might come from a place of pure encouragement and inspiration, they’re unrealistic. A person cannot simply stop grieving. Grief is a forever thing. In fact, most of the time when people suggest things like this or fill a conversation with platitudes, it’s because your pain has made them uncomfortable. So they say something to ease the emotion and tuck your heartbreak back into the corner that society has always placed it, undiscussed and unwelcome.
But you cannot have life without death, which means you also cannot have life without grief.
Sure, it can be hidden. It can be downplayed. It can be ignored and it can be defused, but it will still exist, always.
So, while I’d often like to “stop grieving and get out there and start a new life,’ I’m afraid I’m stuck with both grief and the new life that has already found me– one void of my mother.
A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.