Image: Unsplash
Image: Unsplash

Gentle grief, and its five lessons: an article for Elly

You cannot tell anyone how to grieve. It is one of the most unexplainable, intense, and volatile emotions. It truly never disappears. Instead, it is something you learn more about, and welcome in a somewhat positive way as you realise its core.

TW: Loss, Grief

In the words of Andrew Garfield, “It’s all the unexpressed love”. Grief is subjective. You shouldn’t undermine the feelings it provokes. Whether it’s feeling fine for a long time, and then bursting into tears when doing the most mundane task, or battling each day- slowly trying to accept the pain.

The key is to welcome each note of your emotion with a gentle mind, and comfort yourself that your memories will not fade. Remain grateful for everything they did for you, and what you experienced together until you no longer could. You will find your power again by accepting that grief is also the power of your love, and the value of your relationship- that never disappears.

My best friend passed away this year. I never thought I would experience the bereavement of someone so young and close to me (which is a stupid thing to say and comes from a place of privilege). I also didn’t think I would be writing an article on this, but as much of a personal topic as this is for me, I won’t be making it explicitly personal. I want this to be a page revisited by you on whatever journey you may be on.

I list five things that I remind myself, whether these are coping methods or new perspectives that I have developed. I hope this will be a refreshing read on a topic so heavy.


1. It is important to lead a gentle life with gentle people.


‘Gentle’ has become one of my favourite words. It resonates with patience, understanding, no rush and recognition of all things beautiful. When I found out that my best friend had passed away, the world stopped around me. I felt like I had no other cares for anything, apart from what I had just heard and how much I wanted it not to be true.

After finding out something heart-breaking, your routine changes, the weeks right after were flooded with that one thought. As much as I could write about the pain I experienced, the point of this section isn’t that. Although my routine changed, throwing me into a period of grief, I simultaneously became more in tune with my needs. I was able to prioritise what I needed to do, and it came like second nature to detach myself from things that could wait for me.

Life slowed down for me; I would get ready for the day as I want, listen to music that settles my thoughts and maintain the tightest contact with those who matter most. We talked about the rawest emotions, trying new coffee places, re-watched films, played hide and seek in the middle of the park, fell asleep together and noticed the sky more.

In September, when hard work usually begins again after the summer, we hit pause and said goodbye in our way. Even though after ‘responsibilities’ returned, my perspective stayed. I promised myself to stay in tune and be patient with myself and others.

Life is fragile. The treatment of moments and love, like they’re disposable, is wrong. We aren’t guaranteed the happiness and security we may feel today. We should slow down our days when we can to allow ourselves to feel that extra bit of comfort, no matter how the world around us is trying to convince us that there are more important things than the simplicity of a life filled with slow gratitude and slow compassion.


2. If you feel like you can’t do something for yourself, do it for them.


I had never felt this unmotivated. However, there was one moment when I was sitting in bed, and all the motivation I lacked got pushed into me. Lack of motivation is different when you are no longer motivated to do what you once loved. At this specific moment, I had this longing to experiment with the things I used to crave. To go even harder at my degree, go and cook a pretty dinner, and create whenever I got the chance. I wanted to make her proud. I wanted to stick by the promises we made each other for what we’d achieve and how we’d be enjoying life in the following years. Even if it’s not for myself that I make the slow steps, I do it for her. I fulfil the life we both wanted as if she was still by my side. No matter how cliché and how much I don’t want to hear it, she would want me to carry on being happy and live life to its absolute fullest. She continues to be my motivation.


3. Find them around you, in nature, ornaments, places, etc.


This provided me with some of the biggest comforts during this time. In my eulogy, I spoke about her continuing to be my best friend, just in a different form. I stand by this while describing that I see and feel her around me. I look at the sky as if she paints it for me every day. I hear her in the songs she sent me and the playlists she made me, that extra bit more. I visit the places where we spent hours together, and they give me even more peace.

When the love for a person was that strong, as painful as it is to try and replicate it, it certainly never disappears. As hard as it is, you must open your heart a little bit more to what is still here. You’re still very much connected; you just need to alter your ways of communication.


4. Find comfort in “what will be will be”.


We have learned how to live in a pandemic, expecting the unexpected. Planning almost becomes disposable when the future isn’t entirely in our control. It’s important to let go at times and find comfort in having less control of situations and the future.

Things happen for a reason when you perceive life as being written for you. I picture it in my head as falling through the pages of a book called life, letting yourself be held on some pages longer than overs; some catch you softer, while others push you through. As you fall, you linger onto some words more than others; some mean more to you and teach you things, some give you grief, some abundance. To learn all the world has to offer, you must let yourself keep falling because you have no idea what will catch you.

5. Put your happiness first.


I’ve recently been able to say no to things and people with ease. Ask people to wait on decisions from me when I know I haven’t had time to think about them yet. To distinguish between what I want to do rather than what I feel I should be doing. Meeting those I enjoy sharing my time with, rather than deciding out of habit.

I am no longer confused why some discuss time as a currency. I know that there is a difference between my ‘free’ time, and the time I need for myself. I know which meetings socially drain me and charge me with love, and I am extra careful with whom I share my energy. When life takes away someone with an unexplainable value to you, you need to keep protecting the love and peace they gave.

Comments (1)

  • So beautifully written! Your way with words was inspiring and captivating to read. Sending my love from a mutual friend <3

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.