Dust in our eyes our own boots kicked up
Heartsick we nursed along the way we picked up
You may not see it when it’s sticking to your skin
But we’re better off for all that we let in
– Indigo Girls, All That We Let In
Everyone who lives experiences grief. There’s no way to escape it. If you try, it dogs you. The only way out is through.
So I try to walk through.
Some days it feels like I’m walking through fire. Other days it feels like a light rain. Some blessed days, the sun is shining and the birds are singing.
The past couple of days have been unrelenting furnace.
There are a few thoughts, now that this intense crushing heartache seems to be receding to a drizzle with the sun shining down.
– There is no grief without love. In the worst of my pain, I touched the deepest of my love. I was shocked to see it there. But I embraced it, and I felt thanks for it. There is a comfort in knowing I am capable of deep love, even if it’s discovered through the experience of deep grief.
– When grief wears you down, minor hurts feel major. A paper cut can feel like an amputation. It’s good to remember that it’s both. Appreciate the stimulus was small, but the effect was large. Be honest with yourself. Hold others accountable. But be gentle. My response is to eventually find my way to gratitude that I can still anticipate love, and my hope is still intact. Grief has not broken me. Not even close.
– Those paper cuts can bring the waves of grief crashing down on you. Unrelated though they may be, everything in your psyche can be connected. There is a phenomenon called cumulative grief. When a different or new kind of hard shows up, it just might bring back the grief you thought you’d started to get a handle on. Adding a little more to the pile can make it feel like you’ve not made any progress at all. It’s not proof you are regressing. It’s just opportunity to move through it. Again. Until you are on the other side.
– When the pain feels more than you can bear, pray.
That’s right. Pray.
Anyone who knows me knows I’m not big on prayer in the standard sense. But I do believe there is goodness and assistance available for the asking. I believe in intention. And I believe in recognizing the power of grace and mercy. No, I don’t know where it comes from. But in my most desperate hours, I pray. I call out for help psychically, and eventually the sun comes up.
– Reach out to those who love you and support you. I don’t feel comfortable crying on just anyone’s shoulder. It’s not appropriate to cry on just anyone’s shoulder. But if you have a shoulder to cry on, use it. Tears are healing. It doesn’t feel like it when there is a seemingly bottomless ocean of them, but eventually they subside. Eventually you laugh at something through your tears… little by little, you find there are less tears and more smiles. Like waves, they’ll be back… but appreciate the sunbeams when they appear. It’s all part of the process.
– Understand that while support is so important, no one can do or say anything to take away the pain of grief. It belongs to you. It’s yours to manage, to work through, to walk through. Don’t think that if only the right words are said or the right man (or woman) holds you or the right child kisses you or the right friend or relative says or does the right thing, you’ll get a pass. You won’t. But you will get moments of relief, and those will strengthen you and renew you.
– This last one is the most important: grief is worth it.
Considering the absolutely hellish amount of pain grief can bring, I’m not saying this lightly. But grief is worth it, because “grief is the price we pay for love.” (That quote is attributed to Queen Elizabeth II.) And for me, love is worth it. Deep, no-holds-barred, bottom-of-my-soul love is worth it. Worth it enough to suffer deep, no-holds-barred, bottom-of-my-soul grief.
But I only feel strong enough to say that when the sunbeams start to appear.