Raw grief feels like drowning

Solace Houseby Alisha Bozarth
Adapted with permission from AlishaBozarth.com

Raw grief feels like drowning. I’ve never drowned, but I can imagine the panic. The inundation. The fight as your body merely wants to do what is natural, just breathe. The burn in the chest. The enveloping darkness. The pound of every pulse reminding you that you are surrounded on all sides by what you can’t escape.

And that is raw grief. Every single reality check is your heart trying to comprehend what your brain is telling you is true. The finality of loss and the vapor of a life you can no longer grasp.

A thousand thoughts taking away your innocence. A thousand reminders like acid on a cut.

A diamond shifts in the light and sparkles. But raw grief is a diamond with a thousand faces. And every shift of life brings to light yet another blinding, unwanted truth. No sparkle, just gravity, pulling you down, stealing your breath.

Raw grief is being numb to everything but the pain. This fog of indifference envelopes you. The kids didn’t eat their vegetables? The plants didn’t get watered? Who cares? Not you. You’re just trying to breathe. They say to forget about your toe hurting, smash a finger. Well, that is how you feel. The throb in your soul drowns out all other cares.

Raw grief is dealing with firsts. Not just the big ones like anniversaries and birthdays, but the little ones. The first piece of mail addressed to him. The first phone call asking for him that you have to utter those infamous words. The first trip to the grocery store where your shopping list doesn’t include his things. The first family function where his absence is felt everywhere.

Raw grief is being full of illogical thoughts. What would he say if he were here? How would I respond if he walked in this room right now?

How would he handle this if the roles were switched? And we torture ourselves with the impossible. We make ourselves miserable with these thoughts but can’t let go of them.

Raw grief is the word ‘never’ becoming a foul word because it taunts you with what will never be again. Once again, that shift of the grief diamond. He will never sit in that chair again. He will never watch this show with me. He will never see our girls married. He will never…you begin to hate that word. And daily, the nevers pounce.

Raw grief is that paranoia of memories losing their vibrancy. Like trying to grasp the wind, you desperately try to clutch them. And panic sweeps in when they fade against your will.

Kansas City HospiceIn a slow, migrant journey, the shift of the grief diamond loses its vibrancy. What was once blinding light has dimmed. You are able to examine your feelings and the changes in your life without having to look away. The tyrannical waves that whelmed you shift to surges that merely lose your footing.

And then those waves fade until you are enveloped with tender currents that are gentle reminders of the tempest you have walked through.

Though the water surrounds you, it is no longer your tyrant. Your head can now stay above water with the flux of grief’s influence. Your breath, instead of gasps, become deeper and steadier, revitalizing a new form of life.

If you should feel overwhelmed, call Grief Support Services at 816.363.2600. We’re here to listen and support you.

About Us


The mission of Kansas City Hospice & Palliative Care is to bring expert care, peace of mind, comfort, guidance, and hope to people who are affected by life-limiting illness or by grief. ur vision is that each person in our community is valued from life through death and each family is supported in their grief.

Solace House
Center for Grief & Healing is designed to be a nurturing place to guide children and adults through the difficult time following a death. It is your space to share, listen, learn and heal.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.