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Shifting

Never apologize for love. Because that’s what grief is: love.

Love is defined as: strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties; unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another (Merriam-Webster Dictionary). Love is an idea, an intangible thing that we put into play consistently every day to make it tangible. We make it real, palpable, important. It’s a staple of human thriving. When it’s threatened or gone we…..we react.

Although expressed differently, grief is showing that our departed loved one matters and is still an influence within our life. That’s part of the equation of love – Inspiration. Their echoing voice hollering ‘clean up your room!’ or questioning knowingly “so did you do that thing you said you were gonna do yet……” may not be audible to the outside, yet it holds a sweet, painful power over us. We hear their voice, see a photo or favorite piece of well-worn clothing and think, “I miss you, I hear you. I hope I can do this without you. I’m going to follow through someway.’ Grief is the boxes of tissues, the complete heart draining, the sleep to avoid the hollow space we have absolutely felt in our gut, the temper and the resentment that others get to be whole. We resent that others are living, while we are wilting after the physical disappearance and energy of our loved one, or wilting over the disappearance of some part of ourself. Grief marks a significant and unwelcomed transition into a different structure with new roles and rules; part of who we think we are, who we know ourselves to be is gone. During his TED Talk The journey through life and grief in June 2018, Jason B. Rosenthal shares that grief turns life into “a blank sheet of paper...intentional empty space.” He asks what we would do with our new found blank sheet. I ask what have we done to bring some color onto that blank white/grey sheet. It’s a void. Doesn’t matter if it is prepared for or fresh, it’s still a void. We may have been given the gift of preparation order to begin to make transitions. Doesn’t make the action of loss any easier. Losing a loved one is horrible. Losing our footing is distressing, discombobulating, unwanted. It’s all of this and one million other combinations.

And yet, grief is also laughter and togetherness and uniting. Grief is memories that are so vivid we replay them daily, firmly cementing us with our loved one. Loss showcases love. Grief is humanizing, for it humbles us and tells us we are not immune from emotions. Love is probably the most influential motivator to do, to complete, to accomplish. Never apologize for love.

About the Author----------------------

Mari Timpanaro, LMSW, LSW, is a certified grief counselor and the social work supervisor for a non-profit organization in New York City. She was motivated to become a grief counselor after the sudden death of her close friend's mother; time passed and "thoughts and prayers and love" just didn't seem to move the process forward. She has always loved the ability to reach and unite people through the use of written language. Words on a page become discussions, thinking points, and hope. This is her first piece on the topic of grief. 

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