Danielle, our Widowed Young Support Coordinator, explores how the heaviness of grief can weigh us down.

The often excruciating, and many times unexpected, weight of loss can be incredibly overwhelming.

For those of us who have lost that one person with whom we planned to spend the rest of our lives, it is a harsh reality that can be difficult to even put into words. We have been forced into this new and painful existence and the emotions and reactions we have felt, and continue to feel, in the midst of this situation quite often take us by surprise. We suddenly find ourselves living a life that feels alien, insecure and unstable.

What often takes us by surprise is the physical pain and intense heaviness that accompanies our bereavement. It is as if you can actually feel the heart literally shattering into pieces. Such is the intensity of the loss and the overwhelming emotional heaviness that they practically bring you to your knees. It is so heavy that it hurts to breathe.

There is an incredibly moving piece of art by the artist Celeste Roberge, which is described as a rising cairn and portrays the weight of grief so clearly. In fact, the frame of the piece itself is made of welded steel and contains 4,000 pounds of granite. A cairn is a pile of stones heaped up as a memorial or significant landmark. In this case, grief is portrayed as a rising cairn, implying movement and progression. It is rising, not staying on the ground. It is rising bearing memory to the person we have lost. We rise with a strength we did not know we had, and we move forward living in a way that honours and remembers the partner we have loved and lost too quickly.

The fact that it contains 4000 pounds of granite clearly displays the heaviness of the grief, and that is exactly how it feels. It feels like you are weighted down by at least 4000 pounds of granite. The heaviness of living this unimaginable grief can bring you down and make you feel stuck. It is difficult to even think of rising up and taking that first step. But it is that first step that is so important and it is quite often the hardest one to take.

We take each step at our own pace and in our own way. We bear the weight of this loss and we live with its presence every day. However, as the heaviness eases, we realise that this loss that has been so heavy and cumbersome has lessened and transformed into our ever changing and adapting story of hope. Our grief journeys will exhibit movement and progression and our grief will stay with us as we grow and embrace hope. And amongst it all we must choose to rise!

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