Grief changes shape but it never ends – Keanu Reeves
There is a strong possibility that the quote attributed to Keanu Reeves on the topic of grief was taken out of context. I have no idea when it was said, why or under what circumstance it was said. I don’t like quote mining and after trying to find a possible source for his words and failing, I was tempted to just tuck it away, but his words are floating around in my mind. I cannot unread them. I tripped over them today for a reason. This short phrase has had a profound impact on me. It is similar to a stone meeting a glass window and standing open-mouthed after the fact, realizing too late that you were responsible for the hurling in the first place. Grief changes shape but never ends. Yes, yes it does. Why have I never thought about grief in this way before?
I have been struggling with loss and grief for the past five years. Five years ago last month my ex-husband left without warning. He left on a Friday night while our children slept upstairs. Without any explanation, he left. I begged him not to go. I could barely function when he left. Barely breathe. I had no choice however but have to keep myself together because I had two children to look after. Also at the same time, my step-mother was dying of cancer. She passed that same year in July. I sat holding her hand when she passed. I went to people that I thought could help me – my doctor, a nutritionist, a counsellor, more counsellors. They gave me advice, prescribed medications, told me things to do to deal with the grief, to get over it and move on. I learned about the different stages and what to expect, how to help speed the process along.
Everyone deals with grief in different ways. Some wrestle with it, deny it, rail against it, bargain and fume with it or sit in a deep paralyzing stillness beside it. I was told after some months that I should be over it; that my children should be. If we weren’t there was something wrong with us. The pain and emotion involved was more than I could manage, but I felt I had no choice but to push forward, push through.
I tried writing about both losses. I found it nearly impossible to, not even in the shortest or smallest way could I put pen to paper to help myself. Today I realize what I needed to do was to wait for my grief to change shape. I knew it would not end. Not in either case. No one else recognized that or supported that idea but it was what I felt. There were holes, however imperfect and challenging life was prior to the losses, and those holes would never be refilled.
Looking back over the past five years, I know I could not help but be changed by everything that has happened. That is what loss does. It is also what life does. Good, bad and ugly. Everything changes, Panta Rei.
Understanding that grief changes shape but doesn’t end. is a gift to me today. Yes, my grief has changed shape. It wasn’t only time that helped to do that, but a myriad of other “things” that did as well. I am not the same person I was five years ago. I am not the same person I was yesterday.
Today I feel like I was given permission to continue to grieve in my own way. The grief hasn’t ended for me and that is ok.