The loss from grief does not get smaller, how could it. My daughter died at 13 years old, that will never change. What we do is learn how to live with the pain. What first seems unsurmountable becomes something that we contend with daily. It is always there, but we gain the strength to deal with it. In some ways it is like a physical impairment. People who suffer physical injuries have to learn new ways to cope and do the things they used to do, the mental impairment of grief is the same, it just can't be seen.
Of course not everyone can cope. It is a medical reality that you can die of a broken heart. It is called Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy, or broken heart syndrome and is caused by sudden physical or emotional stress that damages the left ventricle of the heart. It is a fact that some cope better than others with the pain of loss. Things that can help are talking about it, journaling and finding avenues for stress relief and joy. Physiotherapy for the mind.
It is when doing the things we do to try and minimise the pain of loss that we come a cross another side effect; Post Traumatic Growth. This is not spoken about much, I think because we do not want to acknowledge that something good can come out of such an awful event, as if we are somehow saying that it was all beneficial. Post traumatic growth is basically what it sounds like, positive transformation following severe trauma.
I try to image grief as a big solid lump that lives inside me. Over time the size of the grief doesn't change, but the size of the person does (not literally!!) so that the portion of the person that the grief takes up has become less. That is why we need Post Traumatic Growth, to make the grief smaller proportionally because it is impossible to reduce it in real terms.
Post Traumatic Growth can take on many forms; increased spirituality, appreciation of life, the ways we react to others, taking on new possibilities. It is visible in real terms with the new laws that are campaigned for by the families of the bereaved to offer protection where their loved ones found none, or in the Charity endeavours to raise money for those organisations that helped in the hour of need.
For me, my personal growth has involved raising money for Alder Hey, which remains ongoing, and in addition to the thousand of pounds raised, has forced me to take on challenges that I always considered, but never followed through with. I have also gone back to college, something I never thought I'd do. Taking the time to study something I am interested in, just for me, has been a revelation. Learning really is like a reawakening. Finally, I guess this blog is also a large part of my growth, it has rekindled my love of writing and thinking from a more spiritual level.
As always, none of this would be possible without the love and support of my family and friends.
I may walk with a metaphysical limp, but I do so with a strength I did not have before.