The Riptide of Grief


I’m a coastal girl. I love the beach. Especially the North Carolina coast that I consider to be the most beautiful in the world. Because the coast has my heart. I vacationed there my whole life. And I honeymooned there and my son took his first steps there. Many of my most cherished memories come from there. Now the memories being made are vastly different because my husband is no longer with us.


Many of my analogies come from the North Carolina water currents, hurricanes, eyes of the storm, navigating the waters… Jumping in pools yelling, “I Catch Me!”

This is what we have to do when grief finds us and we begin to be pulled out to sea by a riptide. It’s a frightening feeling to lose sensible control of your emotions. To feel the pain of struggle against this unrelenting tide. Most swim and swim because that’s the intuitive thing to do. Fight it!  Deny it!  Push through!  But the answer is counter-intuitive. We must stop the struggle. We must accept this riptide is taking us where we are supposed to go and it will let us out at the other end. But we must let it take us so that we may know and learn and grow. To struggle is futile and exhausting. It moves faster than you can think. I know this feeling.  And when I stopped struggling and allowed it to take me is when my healing began.


I took these top two pictures during my last visit to the beach. I am practicing Tenet 8 of Grief Anonymous: Finding a creative outlet for my grief. Personal photography for my books I’m writing. Yay!  So beautiful. I couldn’t take a bad picture of the scenery even if I tried!!

17 thoughts on “The Riptide of Grief

  1. I love the beach, my best friend my Dad loved the beach.He is gone now But he told me to go to the for him before he passed from Alzheimer’s. I still love beach and still go for Me and My Dad. The Good Memories Carrying on and New Memories Begin.:):):)

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    • My grandfather died in 2001 of 4 brain tumors in ONLY a month of being diagnosed. After he phoned, and said goodbye to us all. His wife, my grandmother died in 2006 of cancer as well, yet she suffered as by the time they found out she was dying from the inside out. These 2 were my mom’s parents. They were very Godly, kind, supportive, funny, faithful, Seventh-day Adventists. They were true to their beliefs and values and ALWAYS had time to talk and or teach you something and loved nature and books on anything. We NEVER left empty handed. My grandmother even made for me a jogging suit for my teddy bear when I was about 13, much to my abusive parents dismay. I STILL cry and miss them greatly. 3 months ago I ALSO lost my horse, she was 28, and I owned her for the last year and 5 months of her life. She died of a impacted colon, at which point we, decided to put her down as we did NOT want her to suffer. We were VERY close. I HAD Complex PTSD from my ‘childhood” and Fibromyalgia from birth. I was anointed and healed on July 23rd, 2016. ONLY one month and 2 days ago! Praise God. Daisy my horse, helped me gain strength and the will to try and live. I rode her 3 times a week, and went from one massage per WEEK, to one massage per MONTH! Praise God for all the help God did provide. I however am having a really hard time with the loss and grieving….

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  2. Thanks so much for sharing; this is the first time I’ve lost a spouse and I have been totally knocked over with this feeling. I’ve lost other family members of course and think I had a less eventful grieving period than I am having/feeling now. I have never lost a spouse before and I cannot yet believe it, let alone how it has knocked me over with grief! We had 22 years of wonderful fulfillment together AND Mark passed away on July 12, 2016. I was totally so shocked and wasn’t there when he died. He died in his sleep at midnight while I slept comfortably in our bed we shared for many years. I feel the medical community certainly let him down, lied to him that he’d be OK when they damn well knew he would not; false hopes are the worse anyone should do to people having panic attacks that “they are not going to make it”… at any rate,
    I feel sadly that this wonderful man has passed, unexpectedly. He did so much for so many; the whole community is in a state of shock.

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    • I remember that state of shock feeling our community had when my husband was diagnosed. He looked healthy on the outside but he wasn’t. He was 41. And he died 6 weeks after diagnosis from a second round of cancer. I know you are shocked and feeling very ungrounded. I understand. This will take some time to clear in your mind what has happened to you. In the meantime- focus on Tenet #3 of Grief Anonymous. Eat (nourish yourself), sleep (get help from a doctor if you need to) and exercise even just a little. Take a walk. Keep the circulation moving through your brain. It needs it right now. And breathe. Slowly things will become more functional. Stay with us.

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      • The death of my husband was a shock. We didn’t know he was so sick until it was too late . He was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer , Took chemo, got pneumonia , and died within a3 week period. I was shocked and devastated. there are times I still can’t believe he’s gone .

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  3. Janet, I so can relate. I lost my husband of 15 years to cancer 11/11/15. It still takes my breath away and a feeling of being paralyzed overcomes me. I know nothing that I can say will change your experience. But we have to move through this even if it sometimes is kicking and screaming. I lost my dad eleven days after my husband and just this past week I lost my job. I don’t know how much more I can take. But I know that I do find comfort here. We have to move forward. Although some days the weight of my grief paralyzes me. My deepest condolences to you. I know we will both come out on the other end of this immobilizing grief.

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  4. I lost my husband to suicide 8/3/13. Came home to find him with his brains blown out. To this day the tiniest thing can start the tsunami of grief. I allow it to deluge me until it subsides. And I batten down the hatches. God help me.

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    • It is good you have this routine set up for when this happens because you know there’s no stopping it. And then you let it pull you out and back around. Just like you’re supposed to do. These will hopefully lessen for you over time.

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  5. My husband of 51 years died on May 11 th after very difficult surgery. We had been together since I was 17 years old. I get up and dressed each day and try to do something every day but I feel dead inside and empty and wonder what my purpose here is. I am lost

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    • Stay with us. Your purpose unfolds as you move through this experience. Just hold to the truth that your life does have purpose and it’s a process. I understand the dead or numb feeling you have- and over time that lessens and you began to come alive again. Sort of like spiritual hibernation.

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