I want to write about how grief feels... I hope this will help those who are going through it grasp the situation they're in a little better, as well as provide understanding to those who have never experienced this. I am breaking my grief experience into parts, not like the "stages of grief". I'm breaking it down in intensity.
Your life is like a beach. Usually, you get to walk along a sandy shore, but sometimes, life puts you on a rocky path, where you're surrounded by waves crashing in all around you. If you're lucky, the beach you walk on is full of life and treasure: Gulls, shells, etc. Every so often, your beach gets littered, and you have to clean it up. Your emotions are like the ocean. Some days appear calm. Other days are choppy, and some days, you just have massive waves beating against the shore in rapid succession. There are also people casting their nets. Most people are good at heart, but at some point, you'll run across a "well-meaning fool". We've all had one, and we've all been one. These are people with good intentions that just simply say or do the wrong thing. Very rarely will you run across a net caster who is actually trying to harm you, but those exist, too.
When you are grieving, it's like one of those massive waves has just knocked you off your feet and into the ocean. The water rolls you under and beats you against the rocks over and over again. If you're lucky, you'll have a person in your life who sees your struggles and can cast a net out for you to grab ahold of while he or she pulls you back to shore. You'll most likely have at least one net caster who carelessly traps you under the net, though. As if the waves weren't enough!
Eventually, tired, beaten, and ready to give in, the waves will lighten up, just enough for you to catch your breath, but another wave will push you under, and you'll struggle to come up for air once more. For most people, all throughout this process, there will be a net caster whose net you can grab ahold of as you are slowly pulled to shore, but when you are struggling just to breathe, you cannot see the net casters around you, and you cannot grasp the net. You are fighting just to stay alive. You are suffocating in your ocean, and you cannot even breathe to ask for help, only to fight to surface long enough to catch your breath and choke on the water as the waves pull you back down. The waves have lighten up just enough so that you can stay alive, but not enough for you to realize that you will live.
Even though the waves are beating you against the rocks, they will slow down enough for you to catch your breath properly. You know you are going to survive, but you wonder if you want to. You are still being tossed about and occasionally buried under the waves again, but you can see that the sun is shining. It's blinding, though. You feel sick just looking at it. During this point, you can see the net casters and identify who's been casting what nets. With each net cast, you can identify who to swim towards and who to pull away from. However, this you can only do if you look up, which is hard to do when you have photophobia. Sometimes, you make a mistake and swim towards poor casters, while others, you reject good ones, because it's so hard to really see clearly.
You'll soon be able to keep your head above water, but the waves are still beating you against the shore. You slowly become accustomed to the light again, and you've also begun to move towards people who know how to cast a net your way without hindering your progress. You feel strong enough to do it yourself sometimes, and other times, you grasp for even a small piece of the nets being cast. They pull you along for a while until you feel strong enough to let go again and find a decent hold of the rocky shore with your own strength. Throughout this entire venture, there will still be people casting nets that pull you down, but the waves are a little gentler, and you have grown strong enough to quickly overcome those. The nets drag you down, and you feel trapped, it hurts to hold your breath while you try to break free, and you fear drowning, as with the previous times.
Finally, you have found a place where you can climb out of the water, and usually with the help of a net cast for you to grab ahold of and climb up with, you make it out of the water. Just as you think you've got your footing, however, another wave comes crashing, knocks you into the water, and you have to grasp the rocks and climb back up... This will happen for a while, but the waves have been getting gentler and gentler throughout this entire process. So, you can have your footing a little longer each time, but the waves are still knocking you back. It's frustrating. You also find that with every knockback, it's getting easier to recover your footing. Until, finally, the waves die down, and you are able to stand up, stay up, and look back at the ocean. From that point, you can't return to where you fell from, but as you look around, you see that there are nets for you to cast, just like there were at your original location, and having found stability once more, you can start casting your nets again. Only this time, because you're stronger, and because you've experience the situation yourself, you know exactly how and where to cast your nets.
This is not how grief happens for everyone, but I've found this is how it is for me, and I can't think of a better comparison to this process than drowning in an ocean. There have been times when I've simply been knocked down and had to get back up, but there was a time when I spent a VERY long time floundering in my emotional torment. During this time, I couldn't see God's net, but I saw my husband's. At first, he cast the net just as poorly as the dozens of other "well-meaning fools" claiming that they were there to help me. Some weren't well-meaning at all. It took a long time for my husband to learn how to cast a proper net and for me to see God's net. Even after I got up, a wave would knock me back into the ocean or flat on my face, or a caster would knock me down with a poorly cast net. I spent even longer trying to maintain my footing than I did trying to get it. It took many years. Some people with depression may recognize this process, and that's because depression is a common symptom of grief. It can be over quickly or seemingly take forever.
Experience has taught me how to cast a decent net in certain situations, but I'm still learning when to stand aside and let someone with more experience do the casting. I hope that this analogy helps someone, and that I have been able to avoid being a "well-meaning fool" through this post.