On Grief: Ben Higgins with his granddad
World Views

In Amy’s Opinion: Grief Purifies

A word from Ben: For 18 years, my family watched my grandfather slowly pass away. We suffered while he struggled with dementia and Parkinson’s disease. In the midst of difficulties, I saw my family support and love my grandfather.
We will all encounter grief — you likely already have. Either way, know you are not alone. My mother mourned the loss of my grandfather, and she writes about the grieving process below.

By Amy Higgins

My father passed away recently. For 18 years, we watched Parkinson’s disease rob a brave, uncomplaining man of his body, mind, and quality of life. My mother grieved his loss years before his actual passing. The loneliness and frustration of feeling like a widow — only seeing glimpses of your husband for years before his death — tormented her. So we celebrated his passing in many ways.

But I still question the feelings I experience. I’m relieved and rejoicing in my loss. I don’t feel sad, necessarily. Is this wrong? Have I grieved? Is death the only destructive intruder worthy of grief in one’s life? Here is my opinion:

Grief is like a fingerprint. Everyone does it, feels it, and learns through it differently.

Some people cope with religion, some with chemicals; coping outlets can be endless. When embraced, grief can teach you to love others more deeply and not take ordinary moments for granted. Grief involves any situation that broke your heart, your spirit, or your relationship with others. We all most certainly have grieved!On Grief: Granddad and Ben's Mom, Amy

Someone once said grief is like a storm that uproots all things familiar, but after the torrential storms of grief hit, life becomes crystal clear and gives a fresh, brand new perspective on God, life and everything else for that matter.

Grief involves any situation that broke your heart — not just death. It’s one of the most powerful teachers. You may lose sight of a dream. You may lose a treasured relationship. When a door closes, just remember an unexpected window may open and offer a perspective you may have missed.On Grief: Granddad and Ben's mom, Amy Higgins

I could write books on what I learned from the challenges, unexpected joys, and personal growth associated with watching my father pass away. Loss is painful, but it is one of the best opportunities you have to be transparent and authentic with your family, friends, and coworkers.

Be patient as you work through your grief. It will condition you for the marathon we call life.

Each chapter in our lives builds upon the one before it, filling us with wisdom. Remember, loss brings many opportunities to share stories with others — people who may understand your pain or find great hope in your witness.

Grief is a purifying experience. Diamonds only become beautiful through great heat, pressure, and transformation.

Much Love,

Mom

How have you experienced deep loss?

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6 Comments

  • Reply
    Hallie
    May 7, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    Amy, I rarely comment on blogs but when I read your wise, heartfelt words on grief, tears came to my eyes. I recently grieved a dream lost and you are so right: it is a purifying, strengthening experience. Someone once told me that God never wastes our pain if we give it to Him. I’m learning more and more each year how true this is. Thank you for sharing words of truth and encouragement about this season of your life. May God meet you kindly along the way as you continue the journey.

    (And thanks, Ben, for bringing your mom on your blog! Her pieces are some of my favorites.)

  • Reply
    Trish Letourneau
    May 7, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Amy and family, I am so sorry for your loss and I will keep you all in my prayers for peace and comfort.
    I have lost both my parents, my mom 11 years ago yo Renal disease. My dad, last July. This will be my first Father’s Day without him, and it will be yours. Hugs to you.
    I am a nurse who has chosen to work with the dementia populations for the last 23 years I have witnessed the slow goodbyes with families. I have laughed and cried with them as the families share their memories of their loved one before they became lost and confused in their own bodies. My heart understands what your family has experienced as your dads disease progressed and I’m sorry you had to go through this. More hugs. XO
    PS-You and you husband have raised a great young man.

  • Reply
    Diana Hayes
    May 7, 2018 at 7:29 pm

    Amy, you have shared my own exact thoughts about grief. Whether a loss is expected due to a terminal illness or unexpected shock due to a sudden death, the feelings of loss and heartache are the same—painful and overwhelming. When my father died suddenly at age 52 on my 21st birthday, I honestly felt physical heart pain; a very real manifestation of a broken heart. In the several years that followed, my emotions ran the gamut—sadness, anger, loneliness, and even thankful when I was able to recall his jokes, his smile, his work ethic, his love for mom and us. Here I am at age 65 still easily brought to tears when sharing my story, recalling favorite memories, and especially when I hear of someone else’s sudden unexpected loss of a loved one. That broken-hearted pain resurfaces. Empathy comes naturally in these times, and without a doubt I know it’s a gift from God. I feel others’ pain and am moved to pray for them and offer support, just as others did for me. Grief is a blessing; it heals our pain and that of others.

  • Reply
    Molly
    May 9, 2018 at 6:25 pm

    Grief is a terrible thing that we all are forced to experience and as humans. The softer side of grief–we empathize with one another, while offering condolences and shoulders to cry on, or words of encouragement to pick up the pieces and continue on. I offer my deepest sympathies, and like many others, I have felt the pain grief brings.
    Three years ago, my Great-Grandma fell and broke her hip, from there it took her a week to pass. Gram was always strong, but this showed how truly tough and stubborn she was… and [in a way] un-willing to die–but ready to go all at the same time.
    After she passed, I felt sad, but not overwhelmingly sad; we (my family) were at peace because she was at peace… that she finally let go. It was hard to see her like that–in her state of being alive but mostly unconscious–knowing that if she just let herself, she could go be with those she missed the most. How DO you mourn someone that’s gone, but not quite gone?
    I was unable, but she had a family member with her at all hours, my dad would work all day and sit with Gram all night. My Mother and Aunt took turns during the day, as did my cousins. After Gram took her last breath, we were overcome with grief, but at the same time not–more rejoicing that she was with her parents, her siblings, her husband (and her boyfriends)…and her two boys (my Granddad and my Great Uncle). Since I was not able to be with her during her final days, I had already [in a way] mourned her passing. Gram was no longer the Gram I knew…she couldn’t cook me lunch like she did, she couldn’t teach me how to sew, and we couldn’t have coffee together anymore. I felt peace from God knowing she wasn’t in pain anymore…knowing she was with her loved ones that she missed so dearly, and by the time her birthday rolled around, I knew she was much happier celebrating her 100th birthday with those she missed so many celebrations with. I had her favorite cocktail and cake (she would have loved that, too).
    Hang in there, my prayers are with you and yours.

  • Reply
    Abby
    May 10, 2018 at 8:11 pm

    This is beautiful, Amy. My dad is in the early stages of dementia and this was so comforting to read. Thank you for posting your thoughts. Also, Ben looks so much like your dad. How lovely! Happy (early) Mothers Day 🙂

  • Reply
    Kate
    May 15, 2018 at 10:18 pm

    “Remember, loss brings many opportunities to share stories with others — people who may understand your pain or find great hope in your witness.”
    Thank you for this ❤️

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