Grief is something we hardly ever talk about. That force that pulls and pushes us at times in many different directions, in its eloquent yet chaotic dance. It takes us to the very highest peak of delightful nostalgia and crashes us back down to the lowest depth of despair, and often without any rhyme or reason. Our heads in the moment, our hearts in the past, our soul in the future and grief… Well, grief’s right in the center. People often want us to “snap out of it,” to “let it go,” not quite understanding how unconscionable that request is. To let go of the loss, to the person grieving, means to forget. To forget means death of the only thing we have left to hold onto… This time of year is never easy, for me. Floods of the past overwhelming me in an anxious frenzy, at times. I hold fast to the memories of the good and the bad though, as they have both equally changed me. Staying conscious of how the past has gotten me here. The lessons I never would have learned any other way.
I’ve heard so many times through the years how strong I am to have gone through it all and still be here and functional. What people don’t understand is, when are we ever given a choice but to be here and keep moving? The choice to be strong or not? We were never given the tools to process the loss and grief beforehand so we could be prepared. If you’re having a baby there are a ton of books you can read on what to expect, but when you are losing a loved one – which is equally life changing, there is no guide. Possibly because everyone’s experience with death is different, there is no streamlined process to follow. All we can do is get through it. Then comes the guilt, the guilt for all that wasn’t said or done just the right way. Guilt for always talking about your pain among friends knowing it’s not a subject anyone feels comfortable hearing. The feelings of “If I don’t stuff this down, put on a smile and talk about something else I may lose the few friends that I have.” The “No one wants to hear this,” moments that circle round and round in our heads. We internalize our feelings, and become shells to the outside world because if we showed them the gritty and not so pretty, REAL version of ourselves, all of the crap we hide, they simply wouldn’t understand or even be around.
Trying to navigate through life after having lost someone so close is tricky and tumultuous. There are times when we just can’t be happy, no matter how joyous of a situation there is. We just can’t think about anything else, no matter the countless important issues to tend to that should take precedence. So we go through the motions and emotionally check OUT. Keeping a mindful distance from anything that would pry too close to the line of our actions and our actual thoughts and feelings. We banish ourselves to lonely solitude to keep our heart well guarded. After all, it is not a territory for the weak to tread on. But here’s the thing… When we begin to focus on the good memories, the ones that make us smile within our heads and outwardly, we begin to heal. We begin to trust just a little that we can and will make it through. With each recollection of the good, we begin to find freedom from the guilt and the sorrow. We start to learn what impact that person was meant to have on our lives and more importantly WHY. I have learned so much over the years struggling with this grief. More about who and how I want to be as a human being, than anything else. Thanks to the person who changed me on the inside, I am slowly morphing into those changes on the outside and only by grace. Change through grief is a raw, cracking and splitting, chipping away of the all that we’ve comfortably packed around us to keep us safe. It’s brutal in its stripping down of the false facades that we have become accustomed to showing the world, out of our own dire need of protection. Grief, like everything else in life, carries such valuable lessons to who we are, where we’ve gone wrong and how to make it right. It shows us that love and forgiveness are more valuable than anything because life IS fleeting. Grief is not solely tied to physical loss in death, but the metaphorical death of relationships. It shows us that life is a revolving door of transformation. Sometimes for a while that transformation is only within our minds and thought processes. Which is a huge undertaking in and of itself. Other times it is physical and emotional changes and then circumstantial and environmental changes. All propelling us to the greater good of ourselves.
Through my journey, I have learned in the harshest of ways, how to let go. How to walk away from relationships be it family, friends, romantic, etc., that no longer push me toward the positive. I have learned that life is too short to sit in the darkness of myself and others but to instead find my voice, take hold of the freedom that comes with it, and stand in the light. Making the needed severing to that which no longer serves my heart, soul, mind and spirit and having become stronger for closing those doors. Learning to be confident in standing in those choices even when no one else can grasp it. I’ve learned that this very short existence is all a series of lessons that we continually repeat until we have fully learned and taken the proper action in that newfound understanding. Grief does not have to consume us, but can instead teach us. It is a long and hard lesson, but it is one that raises us up exponentially to the betterment of ourselves. Even the lotus flower evolves into its brilliance while growing in the muck. Out of something so raw and grim as grief, something beautiful will come to be at it’s appointed time and place if we just allow the process it’s time and space to grow.