Grief Defined…

My Perspective on Grief

There are many analogies of grief.

My description is this:  Imagine hiking through a path on the urgent journey of life, as it compels you constantly forward, then BAM out of the ground in front of you shoots up an enormous jagged rock-faced cliff. You can’t turn back. You must go up, if you want to move forward in life. You must climb. The climb is immediate, constant, painful and discouraging, yet with every moment you know that if you let go you will fall into the unknown darkness that lies below you. No one can help you on this journey, but if you surround yourself with loved ones they can belay you so that if you fall, you may crash roughly into the rock, but you are supported enough that you won’t fall all the way down the sheer rock face into oblivion. Your friend’s love suspends you for a brief time so that you can grab on and begin your climb anew. You tire on this journey up, you want to rest, sleep, and feel the old security of simply standing on solid ground. You begin to wonder: ‘how long can I hang on’, ‘will I ever reach the top, and once you do- what is up there- will there be relief up there? Is there happiness and joy in your future? Or will life now be an endless climb up? Many times you will want to give up. Many times your spirit will give up and give in. But the only way to the top is through sharing and talking. You must work through the pain of your feelings to make each forward inch up the cliff. If you don’t deal with your feelings you hang suspended, gripping for dear life but you will never move forward without the work of processing each feeling, coping through each hurdle of anger, denial, and bargaining. The work of the climb is necessary, without it you will never reach the top and you will have to hang from your fingertips, gripping the edge of the cliff without ever resting or moving forward.


I use the cliff metaphor for grief because I do believe there is a summit to your climb. There is healing and resolution but note that you are now on a new plain. You will never again be walking below in the meadow of innocence. You are now on the plateau of knowledge and understanding. Your outlook is forever changed- but you have achieved a new height & a higher perspective. From this new vista the world looks different. The perspective is vast, but hard won. You may have never wanted this new view, but it is now yours. You can look back on your past meadow far below, but it seems almost like another person was down there. You have changed. The climb has forever changed your view. It has made you stronger but it has also made you always know the reality that the cliffs of grief are a part of life. They are never again something ‘other people do’. They are deep down forever part of your journey. You are now a member of the elite group that has made it to the top. You are victorious in a battle you never wanted to fight. You may not be able to relate in the same way to the people who are still enjoying the lower meadow of innocence. You now speak a different language. You need to understand that their perspective is still tied to the view they have from the innocence below. They are not better or worse, just as you, are not better or worse. Somehow you both are just different. You both hold a different view of the world. Your gift through this journey is the wisdom, strength and deeper joy that you have acquired because of your perseverance as you climbed. You have more resilience to handle the struggles of life because you stuck to the climb, reached the top and found healthy resolution for your grief journey.