Grief can be all-consuming. I’ve lost both parents and can tell you it leaves you lost and broken. Grief comes in many forms not just in death, but it can also present through the significant loss of a relationship, marriage or job. When you’re suffering through grief you feel like you are living in an alternative universe. It’s horrible.
It can leave you barely functioning and curled up on the couch in shock. You move forward because you have to, it’s the circle of life. People try to be kind and tell you that as time passes things will get easier, and it does to some extent, but you will never be the same person that you were before. Your reality and world has been altered and you have to learn to live in this new world, minus the loved one, significant relationship, or career.
When I looked back on my life and how I dealt with grief before, I realized that I had changed significantly in ways I would have never expected or have experienced, had I not gone through such a loss. I was surprised at the life lessons that I’d learnt in such a short period of time. Through grief I’d learnt to look at life differently. Here’s why experiencing grief changes your life and makes you a better person:
1. Your relationships become stronger
When grief strikes, you really do find out who your real friends/family are. I’d always hear people say this to me, but never thought much else about it. When tough times come, grief sorts out who is there for you and who isn’t. This can have a further grieving effect on you through the loss of friends you thought would be there to help support you. You now see your relationships in their true light. If you didn’t realize it before, you realize now what amazing people you have around you, and you aspire to be the kind of friend that they have been to you: a brilliant one. Every relationship you have becomes more important and valuable. It changes how you and makes you want to become a more invested, attentive, giving person in relationships.
2. You get your finances in order
This is a weird one. After going through probate after a death, or even through a divorce situation where finances are divided, you learn how important it is to manage money. You find yourself paying off debt quicker, wanting to prevent negative consequences if something ever happened to you.
You manage your budget, realize that your savings account needs to pumped up in case of emergencies, and you are to become more financially savvy than ever. Grief teaches you that monetary issues don’t stop upon death, divorce, relationship breakdown, or career loss, and it’s important to put yourself in a good financial position in case anything unexpected was to happen.
3. You become healthier
Before I went through my experience of grief, I thought I was 10 foot tall and bulletproof. Life was awesome. Yes I had extra pounds, yes, I needed a dental check up ,and yes I definitely should have been exercising more, but hey, I’ll get around to it, right?
Watching a loved one pass from the effects of their deteriorating health, makes you realize the importance of looking after your own health. Keeping healthy has never become more important in order to keep disease and sickness at bay. Grief kicked my butt hard, and I found myself spending more time in the vegetable aisle at the supermarket, and getting regular check ups at the doctor to keep everything in check. The need to focus on becoming healthier was immediate; it changes how you think, feel, and treat your body.
4. You become more spiritual
When you are faced with grief, you tend to look inside yourself more to seek answers. When we can’t find those answers we look to our higher power for comfort and solace. You re-evaluate your values and responsibilities. You meditate, you pray, you seek calmness and soothing. You become much more in touch with your spiritual side and incorporate that more into your daily life.
5. The little things don’t bother you anymore
This was actually a godsend for me. I am a worrier. Pre-grief I used to get hung up on the little things, worrying constantly about the small details. When you lose a significant person in your life, you realize that the only things that really matter are the relationships you hold with other people. The decision about whether to buy a black car or a white one, or travel from Sydney to London via either Bangkok or Hong Kong, doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore. You don’t sweat the small stuff.
6. You make an effort to make more memories
Sitting, watching someone pass or walk out the door and leave you, leaves you with only one thing to hang onto: memories. Memories are an important part of grief. They allow us to keep the loved one alive in our mind and hearts. In time you are able to sit back and remember all of the great times, funny moments, and the life you shared together. You realize the importance, therefore of creating more memories, of working less and holidaying more, of life experiences and spending more time with those you love. Making memories becomes a very high priority and one that will change your life significantly.
7. You love more completely
The significance of the loss you feel through grief would make it understandable if you never wanted to love again. Ever. Why love when you will lose eventually? It shows you pretty fast that your love for people is worth every second, so you tend to love more completely, more freely and deeply. Grief is born out of love, and to love someone so much that you are consumed with sadness is only a testament to the love you felt for them. You find yourself showing more love, and falling in love a bit more easily, because you know now just how worthy you feel to have been blessed with it.
I know from experience how difficult it is to wade through the grief process. The longing for the person or situation to return, the sadness, the unanswered questions, the ‘some days are better than others’ feeling, and the advice people who try to comfort you without experiencing the situation themselves. I’m not going to tell you that it gets better with time, but what i will tell you is that grief changes you. You look at life in a new light, you value it so much more, and become a better person because of it.
Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com