In September, many of us find ourselves packing a new bag; whether that’s for school, work, or for the lucky ones a suitcase for off-peak holidays. If you’re like me, that bag often starts out exceptionally heavy, as we over-pack to cover every eventuality. As we start to carry that bag around, and realise just how heavy it actually is, we tend to gradually remove the things we don’t really need. Eventually, we find a balance where we are only carrying the things we need, and leaving behind the things that are not that useful to us.
Now, I want you to imagine that we were all given a backpack at the start of our lives and every time we experience a loss, a stone is put into the backpack. The stone’s size is related to the size of the loss.
Some of our backpacks are heavy from a young age, some become gradually heavier, others feel as though they become exceptionally heavy all at once. Sometimes it is just one stone that is exceptionally heavy, sometimes it is the sheer number of stones that make the backpack heavy.
Some days our backpacks may feel heavier, other days they may feel lighter. Some days the weight we are carrying may feel unbearable and overwhelming.
Everyone carries a backpack, but we cannot see the weight that others are carrying. Losses that may equate to a small pebble for one person, may equate to a boulder for someone else. The weight and contents of each person’s backpack is unique, just like each grievers’ experience is unique. That’s why comparing backpack weights or losses is counterproductive – it minimises feelings and can make you feel like you shouldn’t be struggling (like your backpack isn’t heavy enough).
Grief, just like the weight of the backpack, can feel unbearable and lonely at times. It can feel as though it will never get lighter, never get easier. You are not weak or alone in finding grief overwhelming. The aim of the Grief Recovery Method is to help you remove the stones from the backpack. It does not compare weights. It does not stop new stones being put into the backpack. Instead, it is a toolkit that can be used time and time again to help you lighten the load.