From The Confessional: Living In The Vice-Like Grip Of Grief

by Karen Johnson
Originally Published: 
What Grief Really Does to People

Grief is one of the hardest parts of living. It comes in waves—sometimes huge tidal waves that last for days or weeks without relief, and other times shorter bursts of pain. Some say it never really leaves us, and we just learn to cope with it. And it’s not always about death—we also may grieve the loss of a relationship or the loss of some part of our lives that left a painful void.

Triggers can be predictable—holidays, anniversaries, birthdays… but other times come out nowhere—hearing a song you both loved, seeing a certain number that holds meaning, or hearing someone talk about vacationing to a place you once visited.

It hurts. There’s no way around it. You have to go through it. However, by enduring grief, you might feel stronger and proud of yourself as you emerge on the other side. And, you’ll have an extra layer of compassion for other people who are hurting, because you know their struggle.

If you are grieving after a death or the end of a relationship or maybe even something that happened 20 years ago, allow yourself a moment to sit in that space and come out when you’re ready to face the world again.

My wife told me she has feelings for another man on mother's day. I don't want to say it's over, but the grief says otherwise. I'm not sure how to cope with the death of my marriage.

Confessional #25780136

At times I’m ok. Cool & detached & recognize that he & I aren’t meant to be right now. Other times I’m completely overcome with grief thinking of all the sweet things he once said/did wondering if he meant any of it or if he was playing me the whole time

Confessional #25763441

Dreamed about him again. It hurts, because he had no issue with moving on. I was/am in love with him, unrequited. Holding back tears, heavy hearted. This is worse than death, because the grief isn’t as obvious, and people think it’s silly.

Confessional #25758728

Mourning the end of a marriage or relationship is a special kind of grief. Even though no one died, you do find yourself going through the stages of loss, and it’s painful AF.

Today’s my birthday. I’m the same age as my mom was when she died and I don’t know how I feel about it. I spent the day alone. So got me a blender. Kid got me a nice cake. Nobody thought to get dinner. So I’ll just go hungry. Fuck this day.

Confessional #25786090

Yesterday was the anniversary of my big brother’s death. 21 years ago, he was 23 & I, his baby sister-was 17. He’s been in a nameless grave until YESTERDAY. Anger & grief consume me again, 21 years later.

Confessional #25750452

Had a sex dream with my husband that died. Really fucked with my mind. The entire day I've felt lost. Can't function. Want him back so much. Miss sex with him so much. And of course everything else.

Confessional #25791991

One year I won’t break down for my kids bday right? One day I won’t be so upset that it’s a few days before my sister died right? One day I’ll be able to live during this month and not freak out right?

Confessional #25781545

DH passed away almost a year ago and it's so fucking difficult seeing his parents. DD and I are both emotionally drained after spending time with them. It's not their fault, they lost a son. But their grief makes our grief worse.

Confessional #23162827

Anything can be a trigger for grief. Certain dates on the calendar, seeing certain family members, or passing by a place that holds memories for you. If you feel those waves unexpectedly wash over you, know that they’ll eventually subside. Until they do, just breathe and take care of yourself.

I lost my brother two years ago, first year I was in shock, now that it’s the second year I’m numb with grief and fucking up every aspect of my life. I cannot get it together.

Confessional #25767087

most days I’m okay, but today the grief of losing my mom and the guilt of her never meeting her grandkids is just too much

Confessional #25753001

My soul is tired. I wish I could reset, start again, let go of this pain. But I can’t. I wish we could erase memories because this grief is too much to bear.

Confessional #22447863

It might seem like it’s too much to bear, but you’re stronger than you know. Take a rest—rest your mind, body, heart, and allow yourself some time to heal and process and sit in the sadness. When you’re ready to come out, you’ll know.

A month ago I was getting my parents home safe for my dad to come home. 2 weeks later he died. How is this my life right now. God I hate this. I miss him and don’t know how to help my mom. She’s 64, widowed, in a house too big for her.

Confessional #25791219

My dad died over a year and a half ago. I've been completely overwhelmed with grief the past few days. I don't think I will ever really be happy again.

Confessional #25752102

My parents have had their cell phone numbers for 22 years. My dad died so my husband canceled his phone. I can’t imagine someone else having that number. I know it sounds dumb, but that’s my dad’s number.

Confessional #25792328

My stepdad died 3 weeks ago. We used to vibe to music from his child/teen years. I never realized how much those times from my teen years would mean to me now. I’m thankful music is something we both loved.

Confessional #25791799

My stepdad died 2 weeks ago. I’m terrified that I won’t remember him. Like he’ll drift out of my memories because it’s so painful having him gone. He was not my bio dad, but he loved and cared about me more than bio ever has.

Confessional #25791234

Losing your dad, especially when you had such a bond with him, can be excruciatingly painful. You might want to keep his old sweater, or have a picture of him in your purse, or have a hard time letting someone else have his phone number. We understand. Hold on to what you need to hold on to in order to cope and heal.

I don’t even know who to tell anymore that I can’t sleep and I spend hours during the night, crying and holding our pet rabbit. Lost my dad to cancer 2 weeks before the quarantine and the grief coupled with the uncertainty is too much.

Confessional #25779280

Fuck 2020! My dad died a week ago. He was 73. Fuck COPD. It stole years from us. I feel broken. I don’t know how to fix it. This pain is horrible.

Confessional #25790818

I had a miscarriage two weeks ago and it’s only really starting to sink in now. But It doesn’t feel right to ask for support when literally everyone is dealing with health crises grief right now. I don’t want to burden anyone but I’m so sad.

Confessional #25781196

My dad died in 9/11, just an office worker trying to support our family. My best friend's child is one of the two NY children to die of COVID-19 inflammatory disease. I can't get out of bed. I just can't. It feels like these tragedies hit us here more.

Confessional #25779856

I’ve signed my son up for home online school. My dad died and now I want to send him back to school. Idk if the fog will be gone enough to make homeschool successful.

Confessional #25790669

And in 2020, grief can be especially hard. Maybe the number of COVID deaths is triggering for you. Maybe you haven’t been able to process your grief this year because of quarantining, or because you feel like there is no space for your pain in the midst of everything. 2020 is heavy for us all, but it’s important that you make space for your own healing no matter what.

Grief is one of the most powerful experiences of life. It’s something we all experience at some point, as none of us are immune. So let that be a comfort to you—this pain does not make you weak. This pain makes you human. Reach out, talk to someone, and don’t bury it. You might have to sit in a pile of old photos and cry. Or call a relative and tell funny stories about your loved one. Or go running or throw axes at trees or punch a punching bag. As long as you allow yourself time and space to truly grieve, you’ll get through it. Because you really are stronger than you know.

This article was originally published on