When Grief Spills Over

Grief bursts are real.

It has been over 7 years since we lost Anna, and I thought that I had a pretty good grip on my grief. For years now, I have been able to speak with hundreds of families about the loss of their babies without allowing my own grief or memories to sneak in to steal away my calm demeanor. I have been able to share Anna’s story with friends, family, and countless strangers without shedding a tear.

But today, today that façade burst.

I wasn’t doing anything particularly special. Just putting a drawing that my 5 year old had created into his “memory box.” As I was closing the lid, it hit me like a ton of bricks; and I fell into a heap on the floor unable to keep the emotion at bay. Even as I laid there, my mind was saying, “What the heck?! Shouldn’t we have moved beyond this by now???” Luckily (is that even the right word?), my time at Anna’s Grace has taught me much about grief, and I was able to recognize that what I was experiencing was what is commonly referred to as a “grief burst.”

Grief bursts are those random, intense moments of grief that sometimes wash over us unexpectedly. They may happen in the days and weeks that follow a loss or even – as in my case – years later. Something may trigger the burst – like a song or a photo, or it can happen while you are doing something completely boring and mundane – like grocery shopping or cleaning house.

These episodes of sadness are often beyond our control and can occur quite unexpectedly. Sometimes they leave us feeling silly or embarrassed for expressing such a level of grief, especially if some time has passed since experiencing loss. Well, I am here to tell you that grief bursts are COMPLETELY NORMAL. There is no need to apologize for your grief, nor should you feel embarrassed for expressing emotion. Instead, I encourage you to see these moments as opportunities to pause and take the time to do the hard work of grieving.

My grief bursts have definitely become less frequent as the years have passed, but today I was reminded of the great gift they actually are. There is nothing more lovely than having an excuse to be still and spend time thinking of my sweet, sweet Anna.

“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, … and of unspeakable love.” ~Washington Irving