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What You Probably Don’t Know About Grief

Updated: Sep 29, 2022

Written by: Charlotte Hawkins

When I was 25, my dad died of heart failure.

When I was 27, my mom died of lung cancer.

I’ll spare you all the details for now, but suffice it to say that I know a little bit about grief.

After all, I’ve been doing it all of my adult life. I was my parents’ primary caregiver for four years, and if I thought that was hard, it was a cake walk compared to what came next: navigating the entire rest of my life without my parents.

Now’s the part where another author might segue into a list of easily understandable main ideas. “How to Navigate Grief, by an expert in the topic, Me.” But I’m not going to do that. If there’s anything I take pride in, in this life, it’s my no-bullshit policy. And the no-bullshit thing about grief is that no two people grieve the same way.

That’s it, that’s the big secret.

I’m sorry to tell you that any of the how-to manuals out there with the steps and the stages and the advice are not entirely accurate. Grief doesn’t move through you in neat and tidy stages. I wish it was that simple.

No two people grieve the same way.

Some people white knuckle it. Some fall to pieces.

Some lash out and some withdraw.

Some become extremely touchy, quick to anger, or resentful of seemingly everyone.

Some go into caretaker, fix-it, some might say control freak mode, thinking they can prevent anything bad from ever happening again.

Some dye their hair, or quit their job, or move across the country.

Some party too much, or cheat on their spouse, or find religion.

Some people appear totally fine and you wonder if they are grieving at all.

(Spoiler alert: they are.)

If you have experienced grief in any of these incarnations, congrats, you are grieving correctly. There is no right or wrong way. There’s no rulebook.

I’m not going to tell you how to grieve, but I will tell you what to do while you grieve, and that is, get some help. It doesn’t matter if it’s from the clergy, or a social worker, or a clinical psychiatrist, just get someone to help you. You can feel all the feels, get all the tattoos, and take all the risks you want, but you can’t do it at the expense of your overall well being. You need a chaperone for this mess. A tour guide. A grief sherpa, if you will.

Grief does not follow a schedule. Grief is a tidal wave. It might hit you immediately or it might creep up on you three years later, but when it arrives, it helps to learn how to surf.

Because here’s the other thing you don’t know about grief: it gets better. Not today, not tomorrow. Not for a long time. But it eventually does get better. That part I know for sure.


About the Author

Charlotte Hawkins

Marketing Coordinator

I have worked as a paralegal, legal assistant and now marketing coordinator at the 10th largest law firm in the state of Florida. Before that, I did a little of everything in the small business world, and before that, I spent four years in my twenties putting my life on hold to be the primary caregiver to both of my terminally ill parents. They died when I was 25 and 27 respectively, and that experience has absolutely colored every one that came after it.

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1 Comment

Charlotte having lost my Mom earlier this year your words hit home. While I am 64 years old and I have many beautiful memories of time spent with my Mom I still feel a great sense of loss.

Your insight and writing is so straight forward and spoken from experience and the heart.

You are a writer no matter what your inner voice tells yourself. Congratulations and write on!

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