December 06, 2018

On Grief

I’m no expert on grief, but I want you to know you’re not alone and everything you are feeling is totally normal. Just like birth connects women to the wisdom of the ancients – we have been birthing for millennia and each of us become connected like a cosmic thread – death unites us in the same way. Or rather, grief does. I’m unsure if we are united with anyone after death, but for sure, once you experience the death of a loved one, you gain membership into a club no one told you about and one you never wanted to be part of.

The first year is the worst. It just is and there is nothing you can do about it. Accept it is awful. You will feel sick, weak, tired, drained, exhausted, depressed, angry, impatient, and sad. You are going through the process of seeing the world with new eyes and adjusting to a new way of life without your loved one in it. You will take pictures you wish you could show them, and the sudden memory that you cannot will sting your heart. You will go to pick up the phone to call them and remember you cannot. You will hang on to every shred of memory you can find – a scent, an item of clothing, a favourite object of theirs.

a brown woman with a pained expression on her face, holding her head in her hand.
image of a woman holding her head in her hand, eyes closed with a pained expression on her face

The first Christmas/Hanukkah, birthday, whatever major celebration without them will suck. If you do manage to have fun, you might stop yourself and feel bad for having fun. Try to just feel whatever you feel and not judge it. I don’t believe any loved one would want us to feel bad – especially because of them.  Ask people to be gentle and patient with you.

I had/have days I wake up fragile without a good explanation other than the emotions just have to pass through and come out. It’s OK to tell your friends and give a head’s up – "today is a vulnerable day."

Every year after gets better. Unlike people, grief never dies. It morphs and lightens and changes, often leaving bittersweet memories instead of pure sadness in its wake, but it will always be with you. And this is why it is futile to fight it and easier to accept it as a journey or a friend who won’t go away. Annoying, but still a friend. A journey without an ending. See it as you wish but know it won’t leave you.

At the same time, there’s no need to hang on too tightly. By moving on, you are not disrespecting the memory of your loved one. They have tucked themselves into a little corner of your heart to make space for all the other wonderful people you will meet in your life. Your heart has enough room to hold them all. It’s a muscle that expands with exercise. Allow your heart to exercise its love muscle!
Remember that all this pain – this horrible heartache – is evidence that you have loved, and loved deeply. And that is a gift, my dear soul. You were lucky.

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