Love, Loss, and Leaning into the Injustice of Grief

Love, Loss and
Sculpture by Celeste Roberge

Love, Loss, and Leaning into the Injustice of Grief

Today, we should be celebrating Sarah’s 16th birthday. A milestone birthday, with the anticipation of her getting a driver’s license. Beginning to choose colleges or trade schools. Thinking ahead to prom and graduation. SAT tests. Hanging out with friends. Snubbing family events for friends. Teen stuff.

As I remember the conversation Sarah and I had on her last healthy day, we talked about her getting her learner’s permit. She had already calculated when she’d eligible for driver’s training. She was so excited. As a mother of four, I was both excited and terrified at the thought of my granddaughter driving.

Lately, I have begun to feel injustice. The injustice of her untimely death. The injustice of other events in my life. The injustice of world events.

A few months after her death, our beloved dog, Remi, died. I remember standing outside in the yard at 3 a.m., shaking my fist into the star-lit sky. I’ve never before admitted what I said to God and the Universe, because I figured I would be chastised about my faith or condemned for my language.

Tears streaming down my face, I screamed silently so the neighbors didn’t hear. “What the f*ck do you want from me, God? Why did you take Sarah? Then Remi? Really? What the f*ck? What am I supposed to do with this? What am I supposed to believe? Do you even f*cking exist? Do you hate me????”

That night, the injustice I felt was off the chart. And I am feeling it today.

As I sat to write this, I grabbed my “Feelings Wheel,” and I couldn’t find “injustice” as a feeling. Knowing the stages of grief – which are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance – I was trying to find which feeling/stage of grief injustice falls into.

Injustice is a lack of fairness. And a quick Google search of popular psychology sites connects injustice to anger.

That makes so much sense.

Injustice comes in many forms: untimely deaths, unfavorable health issues, people abusing others, systems of government abusing others, racism, bullying – basically anything that is imbalanced and unfair. The brain doesn’t like the imbalance. It doesn’t like unfairness. Injustice sets off the amygdala – our processing center for feeling danger and threats.

The death of a child is ridiculously unfair. No wonder it sets off the amygdala. How can the brain balance a child’s death?

The stages of grief are not linear. So many people feel that they are – and that is simply not true. Huge triggers to the death of a loved one are many: their birthday, the date of their death, holidays, milestone dates, deaths that are similar to your loved one. The list can be exhausting – and that makes grief exhausting, too.

Knowing that injustice is part of the anger feeling, I know that I am experiencing the non-linear stages of grief again. That the anger I am feeling will be the catalyst to land me in the sadness and continue the never-ending work of grief.

When I give myself the permission to feel the injustice of anything that isn’t fair, I give myself the permission to grieve. Because each time I get to the acceptance stage, the injustice calms a bit, and the opportunity to “make meaning” out of grief and move forward can develop. Today, I can’t even fathom what “making meaning” looks like. And that is perfectly okay.

What I am learning through grief is that it is NOT linear. That we bounce around in these stages. That is the journey.

Well-meaning comments, such as, “She wouldn’t want you to grieve,” or “She is always with you,” do not help. While they may be true, those words don’t do much when you are longing to hear the voice of your loved one or feel their warm embrace.

You can’t get over grief. You can’t get under grief. You have to plow through grief – no matter what stage you are in.

So today, I am angry. I accept that. Because when I acknowledge that anger, the sadness will come, giving me the sweet relief needed through my tears, which will get me back to the acceptance I need to grasp, until the cycle starts again.

The cycles do get less frequent. I know that from experience. But they still happen, and I have to accept that. So, when I feel the injustice of grief and move through it, I know that I can make a positive move, in her memory.

Happy heavenly birthday, Boo. I love and miss you more than I can ever express. It’s so unfair. It’s so unjust.

Love you xo






6 Replies to “Love, Loss, and Leaning into the Injustice of Grief”

  1. Hi Lynne,
    You are so brave to bare your feelings the honest way you do. I got a lot out of your post that helped me understand more about grief. It reminded me of the day my father was taken away from me as I was about to enter my teens. The time that I needed him most. Now I know what my feelings are called. Unjust. It’s kind of how I feel about my health issue right now. Thanks again for taking the time to write this. My thoughts and prayers are with you today and always. Stay Strong. Sarah Strong!

  2. Lynne,
    It’s normal to question God and even be angry at God when you lose someone in an untimely way. I would hope no one would be cruel enough to judge you negatively. Losing a child or grandchild is the hardest. I watched my mom go through it and it was heartbreaking, just as much as losing my brother. She was angry for a long time. I’m glad you’re accepting that the stages of grief aren’t set in stone. You need to keep telling yourself it’s okay to feel all of them now and then, regardless of what anyone says.

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