When does talking about the loss of someone get to be too much? Is it still grief or is it descending into depression?

Talking and writing about grief for me has been a catharsis, a way to heal my thoughts, emotions and fears. It is a slow, sometimes excruciating process. Not linear, and sometimes unexpected.

At times there seems to be a fine line that can be crossed. I met a woman who had been widowed after six years of marriage. Nine years later, she still does not sleep in the bedroom she shared with her husband, nor can she bring herself to open a birthday gift she found after he passed away. She feels stuck in place but sees no way out.

We all have to be gentle and considerate of ourselves or others who are traveling through grief. But I have seen in my own grieving, that sometimes we run the risk of being stuck in place. I met another widow who spoke incessantly about her husband. She refused to even consider the idea of going through his clothes or personal items, even after five years. She was adamant she would never date again, even though she also admitted her marriage had not been a happy one. Again, it is all about our personal choices. Our lives have formed how we handle stressful situations and circumstances.

The way we handle our grief and emotional outcomes is of course a personal choice, but I feel that some people allow their grief process to make them bitter. I know sometimes I’ve fallen into this myself. I consider it a trap to allow the hurts in my life to weigh me down. Well on my way to healing, I refuse to be consumed by anger and regret.

Grief is never easy or quick. It can be hard, painful and unpredictable. If we stay rooted emotionally in the same place over many years, we’re doing ourselves an injustice. Why not answer the door when opportunity for growth knocks?

There were many days in my grief process where I felt at a really low point, and sometimes, in my mind, I made my marriage out to be something more than what it was. I had a good marriage, but like any other relationship, it had its problems, too. After twenty years, not everything is rosy, and yet many times in the early days I viewed my marriage through rose-colored glasses. I glorified the good times and glossed over the days I wanted to pull my hair out with frustration. My husband and I were two people who had grown through the years. I learned for my own benefit I had to remain honest about my memories. Nothing is perfect. No one deserves or wants to be on a pedestal. By staying grounded in reality, I decided I would not be stuck in place. I firmly believe this thought process made my grief journey a little easier. I also knew my husband would never want me to stay perpetually unhappy. I have grown enough to know I deserve a full life once again, in whatever way I manifest. But I choose happiness over living in a past that cannot be changed.

Author's Bio: 

Elaine is a writer across various genres, published in women’s fiction, but also enjoys writing children’s books, self-help and screenplays. She is a mother of three boys and when life saw her a widow at 47, she eventually picked herself up and wrote about her experience. The resulting book, A Journey Well Taken: Life After Loss will be available June 2008, www.ajourneywelltaken.com