Grief Comes In Waves

Why Grief Come In Waves And What To Do Next

Grief 24th Mar, 2023

Grief, including long term grief, is a many layered emotion and can still leave you breathless, years later. A certain smell, or a song can trigger a wave of emotion.

grief comes in waves

If you can learn to embrace those moments, rather than fighting them, it can be a wonderful way of spending a little time remembering the person who died.

The memories can be treasured, brought out and shared with friends or family, instead of something you shy away from as painful.

It was written about beautifully in this how grief comes in wave quote from reddit.

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.

Take it from an old guy. 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. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.

Long Term Grief

You Carry Them With You


When you have loved someone they stay with you for the rest of your life. You may even find you can ask for an opinion, if you are honest and listen to what they would actually say, not what you want them to say, you can hear their advice.

This can bring a measure of peace to difficult decisions and just the act of asking, even if you don’t figure out what they would say, can give you a new perspective.

You Do Learn To Live With It


Although an infuriating phrase at the time, it is true. Once the initial rage, perhaps misguided behaviour, grief, numbness and whatever else you experience passes, you can learn to live on. Getting up, working or studying, seeing friends and family becomes woven into a new tapestry.

The gap that your loved one left will slowly, overtime, become less of a howling gale through your life. It doesn’t close, as nothing can replace the person you lost and you wouldn’t want it to, but you can learn to live with the loss.


Finding Joy Again


You do find joy in the little (and the big) things again – from the small achievements of having a shower, to the bigger ones of enjoying a day out without feeling guilty.

You may naturally still wish you could share these moments of joy, but if you allow yourself to, you get to the point where that desire doesn’t catch you off guard.

Grief can make this very difficult, particularly if you feel ashamed of being happy without your loved one. If this is the case, remember your loved one would want you to experience joy again.

Perhaps you could speak with a professional and work through your guilt and grief.

The loss of a loved one can become a defining moment in your life. It can motivate you to stop putting things off, make you realise life is short and not to take things for granted. In time, you can learn to cherish the memory of the person you lost, rather than being unable to think about them without curling into a ball and crying.

Carrying them with you, learning to laugh again and living your life in a way that would make your loved one proud is a fabulous way of honouring their memory. Importantly, more than likely, that’s what they would want you to do.


Featured Image: Shutterstock/Plus69

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