THE ONIONY LAYERS OF GRIEF


When my husband died, a wise woman told me that grief was like an onion. I had no idea what she meant at the time, though I’m sure I nodded my head in agreement as if I did know. Now that I look back, it all makes sense now, and it could not be a truer statement. It can apply to any type of grief, too. It definitely has helped me in my cancer journey, especially with my mastectomy.



Oh onions, you make most of us cry.


There are so many correlations between onions and grief. Their papery thin exterior mistakenly leads us to believe that getting through should be relatively easy.


The start of grief is just like that thin onion skin. So fragile. It comes off in tiny pieces. You want it to come off faster, to be gone faster, so you pull harder and it just rips to shreds. The realization that you must delve into the process of grieving loss by slowly and deliberately pulling those thin layers off comes at some point, but it takes time and levels of frustration that you did not know exist. Eventually, you become practiced at pulling off the layers. You may get frustrated and inwardly want to move faster, but it becomes apparent that the moment you start rushing things again, it will all fall to pieces around you.

This need to rush will happen at all stages. That is ok, that is normal, that is expected. Do not beat yourself up, just slow down and keep moving.


As you move to the inner layers and the steps of “recovery”, we discover that they are deeper and denser than we ever imagined. We peel these layers off, and our eyes start to water. We begin to lose the numbness that surrounded our first moments of loss – those first thin layers of anger, frustration, and burgeoning emotion. We begin to delve into the stinging layers of tearful emotion.


We must cry, a little at first – then the onion burns our eyes more and more. We fight it off, say “if I am strong I can do better” but then we realize as the tears fall down our faces, that we are no match for our body’s needs. We need cry to flush our eyes of the burn and the hurt and the sadness. Embrace it, you’ll f