I guess what they don’t tell you about grief is that it comes in waves. I really didn’t know what to expect. I thought grief was something you would get over, but it turns out that it’s a force of nature you learn to navigate. 

Grief comes in waves, plural.

I thought it would be like a tsunami and when it passed, I would be left with the devastation and destruction, but that it would be over. I didn’t expect that it would keep coming. When I felt the first wave crash into me, it knocked me clear off my feet. I got back up and thought that was the worst of it. I gathered all the things grief had strewn on the shore and tried my best to pull myself together. There was some time on the sand, my exhausted body reeling, drained of adrenaline’s rush, having survived something truly painful.

I still remember feeling the impact, how it completely enveloped me and left me unable to breathe. I clawed up towards the surface, but could not estimate the depths I had reached. It was icy and left me shivering and breathless, gasping for a reprieve. Grief roared loudly in my ears, in stark contrast to my stunned silence. I couldn’t even open my eyes for the sting of the salt. When I could finally part my eyelids, I couldn’t see for all the bleary tears. Everything was blurry and breathing was laboured. Grief felt like drowning. I thought when I finally surfaced, it would be over.

When you lose someone, you’re always walking on the shore. Sometimes it’s sunny and you hear the faint echoes of the surf. You look out at the still ocean and remember how menacing it was that day. You carry on and dare to enjoy the sunshine until another wave kicks at your ankles and knocks you ever so slightly off balance.

You are reminded the ocean can’t be trusted and the waves will likely keep on coming. There will be high tides and there will be low tides. They might never be as big as they were that day and maybe you will have a hand to hold you steady when it hits again. It won’t feel as lonely and deafening as that first day. It’s not something you ever really get over, but it’s an ocean you learn to navigate as best you can. It’s a force of nature of nature, but so am I, so I have hope that I will get through it.

The truth is, grief comes in waves.




  1. What a visceral (and accurate) description. It’s a long swim…but you’ll get there.