I thought I created a new term, but then I googled it and learned it’s already an established thing: Compound Grief. I wasn’t surprised the term already exists. Grief is a feeling as old as humanity. I’m not going to quote you from the interwebs, I’m going to tell you what Compound Grief means to me.
Compound Grief – You need someone you’ve lost to help you get through losing someone else. Or, in other words, loss just starts to stack on top of each other, where the lines between who you are grieving blurs. So when you lose someone new, you miss someone else even more. Your mind can’t focus on your current grief, it spans all your grief.
It’s painful and a little confusing.
I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandma lately. Memories keep popping up and I want to talk about her. In August of 2015, my grandma passed away while she was briefly living with me while my parents moved between states. I’ve made banana pudding twice in the last month because it always connects me to her.
The realization that I was experiencing compound grief, though, occurred to me last week when we were trying to make plans to finally have a memorial and funeral for Matt’s dad who passed from Covid almost a year ago. I realized how much I need Elizabeth to help me navigate everything. Both marrying into the family, we were allies at family events and always gravitated to each other. The idea of being at another family event without her is really tough to think about.
And so it blurs, all together. All the loss, it becomes fresh again. I can feel the grief trying to pull me back down.
And if you’re new to this blog, this is all probably confusing. Let me try to catch you up really quick. Before my father-in-law passed away last April, we lost 3 family members the year before. In January of 2019, we lost my husband’s brother Adam, his wife Elizabeth, and my niece Jane, in a tragic car accident. Their accident is the reason I still won’t even consider driving in frozen weather. I wrote about my initial grief, and then I wrote about it again a year later on the 1st anniversary.
I know enough to know that I’m not the only one grieving, or the only one experiencing Compound Grief. Chances are you might be going through grief of your own. I don’t have anything profound to say, except you’re not alone.
Last week I was watching a tv show with my kids, WandaVision. Wanda was experiencing deep grief and Vision said “But what is grief, if not love persevering?” That line stuck with me.
Maybe compound grief is a just a whole bunch of love, persevering.
From my home to yours,
Lael Gatewood says
Thanks, much to think about. The Covid years are stacking up Compound Grief. I appreciate insights that you’ve shared.
Thanks, Lael. I tell my friends all the time that everyone we know will need therapy by the time this is over! And I mean that sincerely. It’s been one year that feels like five.