When we lose a loved one, the pain we feel is very personal and unique. No two people grieve in the same way or for the same reasons. Our grief is a result of Grievingour loss of a relationship with all of its qualities. Parents experience different relationships with the same child, siblings with the same parent and friends with friends. Because of these differences our grieving will appear in individual ways.
There are no time limits on grief. It lasts as long as it lasts. Unless we process our grief it will reside within us and continue to impact our lives and ability to move forward. Grieving requires a lot of energy, both physical and emotional, especially during the first several months. It is during this time that we are embraced by shock, numbness and disbelief. We are blessedly protected by our minds inability to take it in all at once. After a while, we begin to regain our focus and start to absorb the full reality of what has happened. Now begins our journey of discovery….who am I now, what have I lost, what do I have left. This process includes the physical realities as well as those of the spirit and the heart. It is closely involved with the dynamics of our relationship with the deceased, the issues which were left unresolved, the “if only” and “I wish I had” and regrets and feelings of guilt and even anger. These feelings and longings will come and go like waves until we begin to address them by accepting and forgiving, freeing ourselves to begin recreating our own lives. This can be a painful journey of discovery.
We encourage you to find a support group of bereaved in your area. This will provide a place where you can be with others who are grieving. It will also provide a safe place to share your thoughts and stories. Hospice offers a wonderful series of workshops which are open to the public. These sessions are a free service. They usually run six weeks and provide information on how to find and use tools of grief. Sometimes we need to find a grief counselor to give us direction past some of the rougher more complicated areas. If this is the case, it is important to find someone who is specifically trained in grief counseling. A great deal of the time, however, we have the ability within us to address our issues. Using grief tools we begin to recover our balance and resolve our issues.
During these uncertain and painful times, it is comforting to be companioned and encouraged and to know that we are not alone. Countless others have gone down this road before us and we can learn from their journeys. Within the past ten years, many books have been written about death and bereavement. Your local bookstore and library will have a section devoted to these books. Look through the book and be sure it is “user friendly” for your needs and that it covers areas of interest to you. There are books written by the bereaved themselves, sharing their own personal stories of healing and finding what has become their new normal. Some writings will direct you through difficult questions and reflections. Writing about your pain is a powerful grief tool which you might consider using on your own journey.
Not all of the thoughts and words you read will apply to you. As you sift through the lines you will begin to find yourself. Reading the thoughts of others will help you feel less alone in your darkness. Your grief work will help you find ways to honor, embrace and process your issues while recreating your life without your loved one.
We wish you strength and courage for this journey. Remember that you are in the very early stages of your grief. You are not alone and there is help to be found. Unfortunately grief cannot be outrun, outworked or out-distanced. To be successfully resolved, grief needs to be embraced and worked through. Do not be in a hurry to feel better. Be patient with yourself and move slowly with decisions. Learn all you can about what is happening to you. Grief is a process and will take time. You might hear that time heals. Time creates distance. It is what you do with the time that will make the difference.
As you walk through many older cemeteries in our area and look at the memorials which were placed in the mid to late 1800's, you will notice that you can barely read the engraving. You will also notice that when you touch these old memorials, it feels like touching sandpaper. During that time, memorials were made from limestone, sandstone, and marble. Compared to the wood grave markers which were previously used, these materials seemed very durable.
We now know, however, that these natural stones were sedimentary and metamorphic rock created by organic materials (plants and animals). Over millions of years, these organic materials piled on top of each other and solidified. When placed outside, these materials absorb moisture internally and erode from the inside out. This erosion is called "spalling". Limestone, sandstone and marble have an "erosion factor", or wear away outside at about 1/8" - 1/2" every 75 to 125 years.
Today, we use granite to memorialize our loved ones. Granite was created millions of years ago by volcanic action. Various minerals including quartz, felspar, and mica were melted by the earth's core tremendous heat. It was carried close to the earth's surface where it cooled as a solid mass which now covers much of the earth's surface, just below the soil line.
Granite is an igneous rock and on the 1 - 10 hardness scale, it rates a 7 (compared to a 4 & 5 for the sandstone, limestone and marble). Granite is so hard that it does not absorb enough moisture to "spall", but rather erodes from the outside in, as opposed to inside out. Because of this, we "guesstimate" that granite has an "Erosion Factor" of about 1/10 of an inch every two to five thousand years. Memorials made of granite will last many many generations into the future.