The heart of grief is pain. It may be the subtle pain of missing someone or the raw anguish of new bereavement, but it is the atomic particle of loss. It hurts when a piece of our life is ripped out. We struggle to rebuild our pattern with the central pieces missing. Sometimes the pain is overlaid with anger and that may seem to help keep us going, to give us energy. But sheltering our wounds behind anger merely puts off the inevitable. In that condition, we may become clinically depressed or lash out at others for their lack of understanding and support. We need to understand that the only way to get through the pain and come out the other side is to let go of our resistance to it. Although we may take comfort in the presence and consolation of others, the loss is something we have to deal with individually. There is no pill that will make the pain go away, and others cannot bear it for us. Their own pain is different because every relationship and every loss is unique and personal, as is the hurt that goes with it. Nobody can know our pain even if they have experienced the same kind of loss.
Our resistance is based on fear that the pain will be unbearable, which intensifies the anguish. We may live in a constant state of anxiety following a deep loss. The pain exists but, in our fear of confronting it, we magnify it into something terrifying. We forget that we are reacting automatically and generating our own fear. Living in the moment, even a painful moment, can free us from the fear and give us the confidence that we can survive. We have to let the pain come and recognize it as a measure of the loss. Pain isn’t constant even though it may seem to be. It comes in waves, and that means that if we ride the wave we come out in calm water.