Being human is to love, and to have, and to feel — deeply.

Everyone will experience the loss of a loved one at some point. Regardless of the circumstance, some form of grief will be felt. Grief might affect us with cruel individuality, but to some degree, grief is grief, it doesn’t need to be justified.

If it is felt, it is real.

I have learned we don’t always grieve just for those closest to us, but for the losses felt by others, and the losses felt by a community or a society.

Living in a small community, I have grieved for our losses, as I am sure many of us have, for the loss of significant members of our society that feel gone before their time; there have been people taken from our little shared space, and it has shaken us all.

Whether I know the person or not has little importance. Rather, it is the sense of protective intimacy and the desire to offer support that stays in my mind.

Grief is simply grief.

I have experienced many forms of loss with varying impacts, and I’ve arrived at a cautious admiration for grief.

Grieving is hard and exhausting and consuming; every loss is like a training session to test my heart and mind. The flood of loss would swell up, and I’d feel as though I was washed to sea.

I would try to hold on to anchors — my loved ones and responsibilities — to stay grounded and safe. Inevitably, the pain that accompanied my losses pulled me far from my anchors; I felt alone and the solitude was depressing and scary.

At such a point the sea of grief can drown the soul, overpowering it with relentless magnitude.

To battle back is like treading for your life.

I felt the darkness pound at my determination; I felt it pull me under. I gasped for life, desperate to fight, with no strength to call on.

If you’re lucky you have lifelines, loved ones to cling to when life becomes murky. I remember growing tired and sinking deeper from the surface and withdrawing into myself. I remember giving up at moments.

But then I would have a moment of clarity — a moment when I looked past the surface and saw the people who were reaching for me. They were my family and my friends, and I chose to reach back.

I had the strength in those moments to think clearly. I went back to treading, surviving each day, until I survived a week, then a month, then I barely had to tread at all.

I remember feeling as though my feet brushed the shore.