In the last article we addressed the question of why. Which is a massive question. Why did they die? Why him? Why her?
The other side of that coin is why not him? Why not her? Why not me? Would it have been more fair if it had been someone else? Is it “fair” that anyone dies? Does one person “deserve” to live more than another? Why did I live and they didn’t? Why am I alive at all?
Welcome friend, to the existential crisis of grief. You’re not alone.
These questions can take you to a pretty dark place pretty quickly, but I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be all bad.
Of course, if you gave me the option of having my dad in my life or having him die when I was 12, obviously I would’ve chosen option one. But no one gave me that choice and you didn’t choose bereavement either. But here we are.
You may or may not be in a place right now where you’re ready for silver lining talk. If you’re not, you can read this and put it in your mental pocket for a later day, or you can read this and get mad, that’s fine too. But with time you’ll find that profound loss, like what you’re experiencing, can bring a kind of wisdom that only comes from surviving something truly devastating.
I know, wisdom seems like an almost offensive compensation for not having your loved one in your life, but survival really does strengthen and enrich your character. You now understand, more profoundly than most people, the brevity of life and the finality of death. You’ve stood next to it. Other people understand death exists as some distant, abstract idea, but for you it has integrated into your life. Suddenly phrases like “don’t sweat the small stuff” really start to ring true, because compared to dying little pesky things become inconsequential.
You start to look at your existence through the broad lens of life and death, and begin to consider all those that have lived and died before you, and all those who will live and die after you. You see the speck you are in the expanse of an ever-changing universe. Which, if you’re still with me, makes it nothing short of miraculous that you and your loved one had each other in this specific time and place for the unique span of time you were together.
That’s a lot to take and a little woo-woo but what it shakes out to is that you don’t “get over” a death, you integrate it into the way you look at the world. The hope is that with time it won’t integrate as anger and bitterness, but rather as strength and an appreciation for the life we have, while we’ve got it.
Thanks for visiting Grief Compass. We’re sorry you have to be here, but are glad we’ve found each other.
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7 thoughts on “The Existential Crisis of Grief”
“You see the speck you are in the expanse of an ever-changing universe. Which, if you’re still with me, makes it nothing short of miraculous that you and your loved one had each other in this specific time and place for the unique span of time you were together.”
You have no idea how much this one sentence helped to bring things into perspective – thank you
I’m so glad this helped you. When you’re deep in grief, it’s just about all you can see. But over time you can start taking small steps away from it and start seeing a more broad and beautiful picture. Thanks again for the kind comment.
Yes you’re right. It will be 5 years next year for me and sometimes the grief is still unbearable but those times are fewer and I am starting to view life differently. Thanks again for your post