Grief is Grief, No Matter How Small
By Terry C Thomas
Your pain from a grief experience is similar no matter
what the cause. I learned this firsthand. Grief and
sorrow can overwhelm your heart from different causes,
and yet entirely unrelated events incite the same
painful internal feelings. I hope my short story
encourages you to have compassion on yourself and others
if a loss triggers what seems like unwarranted sorrow in
you when the triggering event was small you thought.
Local news stations report tragic situations every day;
A house burns down and leaves a family in grief; a son
is killed at war; an auto accident leaves someone
paralyzed for life. Grief is truly a part of life, not
an experience which is surprisingly foreign. It affects
each one of us at some time. Anytime something or
someone we are attached to is snatched away, anytime we
have a disappointment or lose a loved one, we feel
grief. Grief & Loss go together.
I have learned from my own personal experience the
nuances of grief feelings which you can't get from a
book or lecture alone.
An adversity does not have to be grossly tragic in the
eyes of others to create immense pain. Your emotional
response depends upon your life situation at the moment.
If you've had a tragic loss that is not yet healed, it
doesn't take much to throw you into feeling grief again.
The more grief you endure which has not been healed, the
easier it can be to be thrust back into the raw state of
your suffering when a new tragedy strikes.
My heart was very tender after my wife was killed in a
head-on car wreck the day after we were married, and I
went through immense spouse-grief. About two years later
I had a little puppy named Apollo. He was a small German
shepherd and I grew deeply attached to him. I lived on a
busy street near Eugene, Oregon. One Sunday afternoon a
friend stopped by and I was out. Apollo slipped out the
door when my friend peeked in, and the puppy began to
follow the friend. He wandered onto the road, was run
over, and killed. Needless to say, I went though
I was devastated. I was grieving a dog, but the pain in
my mid-section was similar to what I had felt when Nancy
was killed. I cried over the loss of Apollo. In my mind
it seemed ridiculous. What I learned in later reflection
and healing was that my grief over the little dog was
igniting the latent grief I still had over the death of
Our feelings of grief depend upon who we are at the
moment. What other grief and sorrow still needs some
work for healing? What subtle memories of the past erupt
again? These are signals that there may be residual
grief, unhealed, which complicates our current pain,
regardless of cause.
I am hoping this insight gives you the chance to be
compassionate with yourself when the smallest thing can
trigger extreme sad feelings. When someone at work or a
friend announces to you, "Just get over it," you know
enough to back away and not just stuff your feeling.. I
also hope it inspires you to accelerate your healing
Abating grief is important. If you don't, the next
situation will pile heavier pain upon the burden you
already carry. In my book, At Least We Were Married,
which recounts the story of my young bride's death and
my pain in losing her, I go into more detail about how I
got through my suffering and grief pain, which is more
than I can in this small space. What I can tell you is
that IT IS POSSIBLE to heal your grief.