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  • Kayla Erenthal

Grief is... so many things

Grief from loss that is deep, is very challenging. The loss consumes our thoughts, our emotions, our physical sensations, our behaviors – basically, everything that makes up our experiences from moment to moment. 

Grief is complicated and unpredictable. There’s no blueprint and no example. It’s messy and beautiful, it hurts us and comforts us, all at the same time. The confusion of living with differing, strong emotions at the same time that are opposing to each other makes this process so unsettling. 


Grief is unpredictable - there’s no decipherable pattern. It melds and moves, shows up when it wants to, sometimes provides comfort and then slaps us in the face and we’re deeply sad. 

Grief is unique. Each loss is unique so all the emotions associated with the loss are unique. And the mourning is unique because it’s tied to those emotions and that unique loss. Which all comes through to specific memories that enter our thoughts, at any time, and triggers grief. 

When my mother passed away, grief was an enigma to me. So complex and varying; yet, so simple at times. That unpredictability. It felt like a pool of differing emotions that varied in temperature to cool but also warm my soul. And this complicated grief still soothes me and overwhelms me, but I’m working on not letting it drown me. I’m learning how to live with it and move it where I need it. Many people use the term “ride the waves” when it comes to grief but I found that grief itself needs to be moved to where it serves me best, and not me moving with it if it doesn’t serve me in that moment. 

I’m learning how to live with this loss by re-acclimating myself to my world, by holding myself more, finding new meaning in grace, finding connection outside myself, but mainly holding onto my mother in a new way. That our relationship isn’t over, it’s just different. 

And through this process of learning how to navigate this initial grief, I discovered that the tools and skills I had didn’t help me begin to heal – they were just helping me cope. So, I sat with it and tried to make sense of it from a theoretical perspective, to be able to understand why grief feels the way it does, and based on that, learn how to live with it.  

I’m finding that choice and the flexibility of choice allow me to navigate when to lean into grief. Choosing when it soothes me and warms me, when I ease in, and choosing when it’s cold and pains me, and when I’m treading water or I avoid the grief. And I’m learning that it’s not all or nothing. That it’s complicated. I choose but it’s still unpredictable. But even so, I have choice in that unpredictability and that’s helping me heal. 

If you're experiencing a loss, be gentle with yourself. Grief is a vulnerable, raw thing. It’s a process and it takes time to learn how to navigate it but there is hope and healing.  


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