Grief is one of the most complex states of being.

It tends to flow like the waves, some waves leave you drenched, and others just made your toes wet.

Grief is a reflection of love, essentially, coupled with the inability of returning to a place in time.

Before I began graduate school, people congratulated me, and a big part of me was elated to commence my program, but the other part of me was heartbroken and struck with grief. I had lost someone very dear to my heart the summer before grad school began, and I couldn’t even share my joy with them. This grief still hits me like the waves; there are days where I blink back tears and I’m not sure why, but then there are days where I am so grateful to have experienced such deep affection.

I wanted to fight this grief for the longest time, but the more I fought it, the stronger it became.

I soon realized that the freedom lays in embracing grief. For allowing it to hurt, and opening the wound means allow peacebuilding to occur.

The pain, and your ability to deal with it, makes you realize just exactly what you are made of.

When the waves of grief come to the shore, I let it hurt, but I also allow it to push me forward. It makes me want to live a more meaningful life, to honor the loss. 

In many ways, grief reminds you of all the beautiful places you have been, and all the hearts that have touched yours.

Sometimes you may think you have lost a part of yourself, as grief can encompass intangible losses, too. This is normal, but remember that when you lose something, there is a blank, a vacancy, an empty room. Use this is an opportunity to fill the empty spaces that you feel engrossed in with something positive.  

Be cognizant of the fact that grief is not to be associated with depression, which needs a clinical diagnosis. Grief is a sudden burst of sadness, it lingers, and then it bids you farewell. You become okay again, and move through the rhythms of life, till another trigger is encountered.

Fighting grief never works well, because those intense emotions remain unaddressed. Allow it to hurt, you have to go through the motions of grief to understand why it hurts. To understand the breach. To understand how to use it as meaning to live an even more fulfilling life.

With time and self-compassion, it gets easier. The severity of the pain doesn’t decrease, no, but your ability to deal with it multiplies. You become stronger in the face of pain.

When addressing grief with others, it is often met with smothering positivity that doesn’t do anything to soothe your pain. Don’t let anyone ever minimize your feelings of loss, pain, and grief. Grief is a unique reflection of your relationship with whatever that has been lost, and you and only you know the level of pain you are in. Don’t cover it up with a demeaner of comradery, either — you can be strong and be vulnerable at the same time, they are not mutually exclusive.

Appreciate whoever is trying to help you but recognize that the healing is something you have to do all on your own, and just because you are in pain doesn’t give you the excuse to make others feel small or unimportant.

Building peace through grief is a mission of mine — to address the loss, and to move forward with the weight on my back.

With all peace missions, there is an acknowledgement of the crisis, and then there are resources provided to address the damage.

Peacebuilding through grief works similarly.

You have to acknowledge the loss and the pain, and then you have to resource it with every tool you have in your kit, so you are standing at the end of the night.

Not just standing, that you are walking towards a more meaningful path.

Resourcing it with acts of service, hobbies, compassion, memories, writing, reflecting — it’s all so important, and how you choose to resource this campaign of peacebuilding is up to you.

The most important thing I’ve learned from this past year is that the sweet spot exists somewhere between vulnerability and strength, and it is okay to grieve and be hopeful at the same time.