The Thing About Grief


Candles are a way to remember and handle grief.

The thing about grief is that it never looks the same, even for the same person. It’s like waves on the ocean: Sometimes, the waves are large and tunneling, and at other times they are small and calm. It ebbs and flows.

One minute you’ll be okay, and the next minute you’re sobbing big ol’ tears. Or you’re angry at the world. Or you feel numb or apathetic or guilty or overwhelming regretful or, or, or . . . There are so many different ways that grief presents itself.

My great-great-aunt passed when I was five or six years old. Though I loved her, when she passed away, all I said was: Oh, I’m going to miss her.

But when my grandmother passed unexpectedly when I was about 12, I dropped the glass plate I was washing. It broke on my foot, and I didn’t even feel it. I screamed and just sat rocking in a corner for about half an hour.

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After that, I felt an overwhelming tiredness. For the better part of a decade, I couldn’t think about her without crying my eyes out for days. I felt so much guilt and regret. I still think of her often, but it doesn’t cause me to spiral anymore.

Everyone Experiences Grief

Grief is typically associated with the loss of a loved one, but that’s not always the case. You can grieve the ideal life you wanted but don’t have. You can grieve a life change, a new job, an old friendship, or an old car. Anything that makes you say “I miss [fill in the blank]” is something you’re grieving.

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There are so many different things that can cause grief. One common thing moms say is “I miss when my baby was little.” I have two kids, and I swear I say it like five times per day per kid. Knowing that they are growing up so fast and that I can’t get back this time with them makes me grieve.

Coping with Grief

Not letting your grief consume you is probably one of the hardest things to do. It’s also not healthy to ignore it or act like it never happened.

What is healthy is to lean into the feelings and work through them. Here are some ways to cope with grief:

  • Recognize and name your feelings.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Remember that grief is wild and unpredictable as the weather in Texas.
  • Have patience and give yourself extra grace.
  • Reach out and talk to others.
  • Accept that this is your new life/reality/state.
  • Remember that everyone has a different timeline. Take us much time as you need to feel better.

A poppy flower is a symbol of remembrance.

Grief and Neurodivergence

Most types of neurodivergent disorders can cause grief processing issues. Some of the most common symptoms/side effects are forgetfulness and short-term memory loss. Because of this, grief looks different. It is very easy for a neurodivergent person to forget what happened. When he or she does remember, it can cause feelings of guilt or worthlessness. It can feel like it is happening all over again.

The Takeaways

Here are some things to remember about coping with grief:

  • Laughter can be healing.
  • Withdrawal is a normal response to grief, but be sure to stay grounded and not withdraw too far.
  • Grieving can take longer for some than “it normally would.”

Even now, I grieve the loss of a job I thought I would love and the people I knew there. I grieve the life I had before kids and before I had health issues. I grieve for my younger self who went through so much she never should have had to endure. I grieve.


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