Grief is _________

Grief is like a volume switch. In the very beginning, it’s very loud. It’s almost so loud that you can’t remember if you’ve eaten, you can’t remember if you’ve showered, you are just—things in life that were so common and regular, you won’t remember.

Over time, your grief volume, you work on ways to lower it and you try to keep it at a manageable volume. And I think in the first few years, it remains very—it remains high. Although it lowers enough that you remember to eat, you remember when you need to shower. You might not remember to lock the car or you might leave your wallet laying out for someone to take in an open car. But, the more sort of critical functions, you know, the basic functions: eating, sleeping, remembering where your children are. They become easier.

I think it is a lifelong switch that is turned on and depending on the activities or the anniversaries, it’s a volume that can go very high again and spike and you work on ways to try to reduce its volume.

Play Video placeholderJayne Agena: Grief Is About Love

Grief is about love, you hear the things, you know, “Love is always,” &ldquolLove is forever,” but you don’t really know what the means. And I think in the same way we fall in love with people and, and that love is both universal and unique... You know, grief is grieving that love, and that love doesn’t end in that way, and it’s just as unique and universal. It’s just that, we don’t talk about that part of it.

So, then people don’t know what it looks like; they don’t know how to approach it. They don’t know... They think it ends, and it doesn’t. It’s just different.

Play Video placeholderJayne Agena: Grief is Like Being Lost in Transport

If you watch Star Trek, I don’t know if you’ve watched Star Trek. But it’s like when they do with the transporter, and they kind of fade in and out.

It would be like lo- and then, then sometimes, there’s an episode about people being lost in the transpo- o- you know, some malfunction in the transporter. But it feels like that. It feels like an- half of all the cells in my body were gone.

Play Video placeholderNic Hepton: Grief is Messy

Grief shows up not in the way you expect it to. Um, it’s messy. When you hear about grief, you hear about there are stages to grief. And you move from stage to stage, and that’s just not true at all. Um, you might move from stage to stage, but then you … It’s not linear. You- you never … You’re never recovered.

People expect you to have moved to a different stage if you they don’t see you for a period of time. They’re surprised when you’re not there. And I think a lot of people said, “We don’t know what to say.” And I would say, “That’s cool, because I don’t know what to say either.” And sometimes you don’t want to say anything except know that they’re there. it was just … It was confusing, really confusing.

Um, and you wouldn’t always know why you were not feeling right, or unhappy, or … disconnected or distracted. And you’d think it was something that was in your immediate universe, and then when you realized that it wasn’t that then, then the only answer was that you- you were grieving.

Play Video placeholderNic Hepton: Grief is S**t

S**t. I define grief as really s**t. Um, but if I’m not allowed to swear on camera, and you won’t put that out there, and I’m, I would define grief as an unrelenting mess at first. Just the most messy thing you can ever imagine.

And, and later, when grief starts to structure itself, a little bit, and when you can recognize that structure, you can allow yourself to be in the structure, and move through it at whatever pace you need. That, um, but it, but grief was surprising, um, and continues to be surprising. But the surprises are less frequent. Um, and less painful. Um, just in terms of how it shows up. It's always there. I, uh, I, again, I, I feel like it’s, it’s gone from being a, you know, a, a metaphorical whirlwind to, um, to a, a hum. Always present, never ... sometimes intrusive, but, but less intrusive now.

Play Video placeholderDarin Jensen: Grief is a Journey

I think of grief as a journey, a, a journey, like our lives, that does not, uh, have a set endpoint. I have a brother who died of leukemia when he was 15. When I lost my brother I started grieving. And, uh, I never stopped grieving him. It stopped being at the forefront of my emotions and my thinking, you know, when I was still a kid. Um, uh, but we don’t just grieve for what we’ve lost. We grieve for what could’ve been or what could be. Uh, w- we, we grieve for, um, the tragedies and injustices we see in the world. And just because they fall off the news cycle doesn't mean that our feelings about that tragedy, uh, go away. Um, so I guess grief is cumulative.

Play Video placeholderBeatriz McKee: Grief is Like a Mountain

I would define grief as this giant mountain. This mountain that you know you have to climb, and come through to the other side. Because on the other side is the valley and it represents normality again. But it’s a mountain that you can’t ever reach the peak of.

You climb and you climb and you climb and you might fall off a little bit and then you try to climb it again and again and again, and maybe when you get up closer to the top, it might seem like, “wow, I’ve made this much progress and I don’t have that much longer to go,” but then you realize that you really haven’t reached the top yet. You're only halfway there. I think that that’s a good way that I would describe grief.

Play Video placeholderJack StockLynn: Like a Deep Gash

Part of my definition of grief would include despair. And part would include memory, and part would include sadness and anger. And, a lot of confusion. And for me, this sort of (long pause) ... a live space (long pause) ... that is holding something that I can’t know. That's only available by feeling.

It’s different than sadness. And it’s different than anger and missing someone and all those things. It’s this sort of, (long pause) (swallows) being that I get to contend with or be friends with. Or, be next to, or carry.

I don’t feel like it’s something that I can ever quite ... now it’s like attached to me, in a way. I can’t, like, shake it off. But, I can set it down for a minute. You know? Um. That’s how I would define it.

Play Video placeholderJack StockLynn: Grief is Lonely

Grief is really lonely. It’s just ... Anyone that has it, even if someone’s been through a terrible grief loss moment, and uh, you’re in the middle of one, there’s still that ... (laughs) there’s still that wall of, uh, not ... And maybe that’s part of grief, is like, you’re so sad about one person that you can’t have space for anyone else either. And so whatever support is g- gonna be missing something because it’s not the support of that person that’s gone.

Play Video placeholderJack StockLynn: Grief Is Weird

Grief is weird. People get strange. People get angry and sad and empty and ... so ... I’m sure I wasn’t terribly pleasant to be around, like, I was in a rough spot. And so no matter how much connection I wanted with someone else, I wasn’t able to be available for connection either.

Like, the kind of connection I needed was someone just sitting next to me and just sitting there, and that’s hard for a lot of people. That, just, mmm, be alone together kind of feeling. It’s hard to sit in, especially when the person next to you is clearly in so much pain and there’s nothing, nothing you can do about it.

So maybe that’s part of it, is feeling ineffectual as a person. It’s- it’s hard to sit next to someone and feel like you can’t do anything . ’Cause they’re going to fail at cheering the other person up, that is just what’s gonna happen, and nobody wants to walk into a situation feeling like they’re gonna fail at what they wanna do.

Play Video placeholderMegan Devine: Like going to the movies

The best way for me to describe grief is like you’re at a crowded movie theatre. And you’ve bought your tickets for a Rom Com (romantic comedy). And, you’re there and the movie starts and it’s been going for about 15 minutes and then all of the sudden the screen splits in two, and melts, and a horror movie starts in its place.

This isn’t the movie that you showed up for. This isn’t what you bought tickets for.

And everybody else around you is behaving as though this is all perfectly fine. And you’re like, “Wait a minute this isn’t … this isn’t right! This is a horror movie! This is not what I signed up for.” And they’re like, “Meh, it’s just a movie. Just eat the popcorn this is great!” Right?

When you’re inside intense grief like that, you’re no longer watching the same movie everybody else is watching. And because nobody else is watching that movie, they all think everything is fine.

Nothing is fine. Right? And it’s that dissonance between what’s happening in your world versus what’s happening in other people’s world. And the fact that we don’t recognize that everybody is walking around with their own personal movie screen all the time.

Play Video placeholderTom McKee: Grief is Like a Seven-Pointed Star

I would say the best way to describe grief is a seven pointed star. You can go from any stage right to another one for no apparent rhyme or reason. I would say that anyone who wants to put their grief into a project plan and just execute the steps -- don't set yourself up for failure.