Allow Yourself to Feel Grief

Whenever I listen to the song “Make Me Over” by Natalie Grant my heart literally aches and I feel it drop into the pit of my stomach. When the violins start playing my mind immediately takes me to the glass corridor of the University of Utah Hospital by the Neuro Critical Care Unit (NCCU) at the moment I knew my 17 year old daughter, Aimee, wasn’t going to survive. I begin to feel weak and the tears start coming. It’s ok though because I know that sometimes I need to embrace the grief and let it pour over me like a rush of water.

I usually don’t listen to that song but every once in a while I accidentally hear it and it startles me like turning the corner into something terrifying and unexpected. I typically feel a silent gasp. Then I take a deep breath, let it wash over me, and I allow the grief to pass through me.

There are times when I intentionally listen to my grief music. It’s a playlist I’ve created from music I listened to when everything was new and raw. You may wonder why I would do this. Sometimes I have to box up my emotions so I can cope with everyday life. After a while I can feel those emotions telling me that if I don’t release them in a planned way they will burst out of me when I least expect it. I’ve learned when that happens I feel like a bottle of pop suddenly shooting the cap off the top and spraying a sticky mess everywhere. It’s not pleasant for me and for those around me.

So to prevent making a mess of myself and those I love I choose to feel those most difficult emotions when I can take the time to completely feel them and process them. I won’t say it’s easy or pleasant. It’s definitely not something I look forward to. However, I have found that it’s very helpful for me to release those emotions before I feel consumed by them.

Sometimes I go to Aimee’s spot (grave) and sit by her marker (headstone), and allow myself to let the tears stream down my face. Sometimes I drive somewhere secluded and scream at the top of my lungs in my car. Other times I look at photos of her and I just cry until I have a headache and my eyes hurt. It may seem like these things are neurotic but it helps me get to a place where I can focus on the blessings I’ve received from this terrible experience.

I remember that my Savior has redeemed us from death. I feel his love surround me. I think of all the love family and friends have shown me and all they continue to do for me and my family. Sometimes I sense Aimee near me and feel her love and that she misses me too. I have a playlist of more uplifting songs for working my way out of grief. They aren’t all happy and completely cheerful, but they help me move from despair to hope and gratitude.

Grieving is a process. All of these things are the steps I take toward healing. It does get easier, but it will never go away entirely and I don’t want it to. I want to remember the things I’ve learned and continue to learn from this experience.