Encountering Grief

The following is a transcript of a video that Alyssa made in December 2017. We hope that you learn from her personal story and practical tools for dealing with grief in your own life!

I’ve had a difficult year in a lot of ways in my life, and part of me coming to the Philippines—which is where I grew up—was that I wanted to be back in my home country. I needed a vacation, but I also think there was a part of me that wanted to connect with my childhood roots and sort of feel taken care of again like the way I did when I was a child, and reconnect with who I was and things that I felt like I lost.

So, I’m here in the Philippines, and I’m on the beach that I grew up visiting. It’s a little place called Bamboo House. It was interesting, the first night that we arrived here, I actually had a breakdown; I cried a lot, and my poor parents didn’t know what to do with me. So I felt like I wanted to talk about grief, because a lot of things about the Philippines where I grew up, and this resort where I grew up going as a child, have changed. Because of a lot of the resorts that have been built up here, the beach is really washed away. There’s not much of it left. I grew up with a huge stretch of beach out there, watching the sunrise and the sunset on the sand. This was a little quiet piece of paradise. Nobody else was here. You could see the mountain—now there’s a building blocking it, and you can’t see anything. A lot of things have changed. You can’t walk to the end of the beach anymore, because there’s a big structure built right here. And Manila felt like that, too. Manila is the city I grew up in, and this is an island nearby. Last night, I just lost it. I think it was because so many things in my life have changed, and I expected to come home and this would be my safe, comfortable place where nothing had changed, and where I could just feel like everything was good again. And it wasn’t like that at all. So I feel a little bit like I’m grieving more loss in coming back here, which is hard.

I want to tell people how I’ve been dealing with grief, because I think it’s been a really good process. It’s been awful and hard, but the truth is that life is full of grief. It’s full of joy, too. I’ve had such an amazing time on this trip, but I’ve also had times of grieving and letting go. I think that learning how to grieve is a really important part of living life, because that is just something that happens in life, is that things change. Even little things that don’t seem traumatic can change and cause us grief. Something that has really helped me is stuff that my counselor has taught me; it’s a lot of just stopping and validating my feelings instead of pushing them away. I’ve been doing that a lot, being here. I can even feel it in my body. I feel the relaxation when I stop and just tell myself, it’s really sad. It’s really sad that so much has been taken from you. It’s so sad that so many things have changed. It’s so sad that things didn’t go the way that you expected in your life, and it’s actually OK to grieve. It’s actually OK to feel sad about things, and it’s OK that everything’s changing. That’s just one thing that I stop and do when I feel grief, is I validate and acknowledge what I feel, and then I comfort myself like I would a little child. I just tell myself: you’re strong, you’re beautiful, you’re brave, it’s gonna be OK, you can make it through anything. It’s OK to feel sad, it’s OK to feel hurt, it’s OK to feel angry, it’s OK to feel grief, it’s OK to be angry. I just say that. I acknowledge the way I feel, and then I comfort myself, and I tell myself, it’s OK, it’s OK, and I do it physically, too, sometimes. I just love myself.

It’s true that that’s not the only way to deal with grief. I know grief comes in waves, and sometimes it’s like you don’t have anything to do but just cry. But I think giving yourself compassion and having empathy is really such an important way to deal with the feeling of, everything’s changed, and I’m losing things; or, things are different, and life isn’t what I expected. I really think that it’s a healthy thing to learn how to deal with grief, and it’s been a journey of mine this last year. I want people to know that it’s OK to grieve, and it’s OK to feel sad, and mad, and scared, and to just let yourself feel and to be willing to be there for yourself and to encourage yourself and have compassion on yourself and to comfort yourself like you would a little child and tell yourself, it’s gonna be OK, you’re trying so hard, you’re so brave, you’re so strong, things are going to work out. I’ve been doing that for myself, and I’m coming back to a place where I’m so excited to be, and I am enjoying it. And it’s OK that things change in life, and things aren’t what you expect, and I know that my grieving actually has caused me to have a lot of joy in the places that I probably wouldn’t have had joy otherwise. Because I haven’t just let my grief be stifled—I’ve tried not to—and I haven’t just let it sit. I’ve tried to feel it and really work through it and comfort myself.

I know it’s weird, being here on this beautiful beach and talking about grief, but I felt like I had to say that for somebody. It’s OK to feel sad if you’re feeling sad today, and you are strong, and you can do it, and you’re trying so hard, and you’re going to make it through, and you’re not alone, you’re never going to be alone. You’re never alone. There’s always someone there who’s just full of hope, and he loves you, and he’s so good. Also, it’s OK to grieve in the most beautiful places in the world. Things change no matter where you are or what you’re doing. I think that’s one of the only things that we can have a guarantee of in life, is that things are gonna change. The beautiful thing about God, the thing that has come to really comfort me lately, is that he doesn’t ever change. He’s always good, and he’s always going to be the same. He’s not going to change his personality. Nothing is going to make God be a different person. He’s always going to be there, and He’s always going to be God.

These are just some things that I felt like I needed to say. I think it’s just the places from my childhood that I expected to be the same that aren’t that have made me feel really sad. Thank you guys for following along on my little journey, and I hope you experience the freedom to feel what you are feeling today and to meet yourself where you’re at and to know that you’re never alone, and it’s going to be OK. There’s so much hope. God is good. Life is good.