Like waves upon the shore, grief comes and goes for me and right now the grief tide is out. Way out. Grief is almost foreign to me right now; like I can’t quite remember just how bad it was in those early days. In the lead up to writing this article I felt like I was struggling to find something to write about. I wrote to Lori, our amazing editor, who really does so much more than any of us realize and I was honest with her. I told her that I don’t want to stop writing for this magazine but I’m just not in a state of grief right now and if I can’t be honest in my writing then I cannot write at all. Lori, being the wonderful woman that she is understood where I am at and even though I think most of lovely readers here are newly bereaved or only a few years out, we believe that there are a few of you out there who are in the same sort of place that I am in. A place where it doesn’t hurt anymore. The grief is there in the background and that is where it stays, mostly.
So where am I now? I don’t even know where I am right now, but I can tell you this, I love this time and space. I have no idea where I am and yet I am not lost at all. I guess you could say I am exploring, learning, growing, wandering and discovering. A few days ago, Franchesca Cox posted this photo on her website. It was if the words she wrote came straight from my own heart. “Hoping, still wandering but now searching not for you, but for me. Our time is to come.” What a gift it is to be in this moment.
Here is the thing. I get frustrated when people tell me that grief never gets any better and that you will always unfortunately have to suffer. I get especially upset when people say these words to newly bereaved people. Really, is that what you honestly want this person to believe? That we are all going to be in pain forever? I respect that some people may truly believe that and live like that, but that truth is only true for them. It certainly isn’t my truth and it doesn’t have to be yours either. No one can tell you how your journey is going to be for you, because they are not you. They can only speak from their own experience. The truth is that you have power over your journey. At some points it might not feel that way and in the very early days it will feel non-existent. This is because you have to go through that pain and weakness. You have to sit with your sadness and explore it. Breathe it in – breathe it out. It is a process and despite what some people might think, it is a normal process.
At some point in my journey I found myself feeling sick and tired of grief. I was exhausted by it and the thought that I could possibly be in pain and staleness for the rest of my life was too much for me to accept. I thought to myself, “Why do I have to suffer for the rest of my life?” And then it occurred to me. I don’t. That is just a curse that only I had put over myself through listening and then believing the beliefs of others. So what did I do with this newly found belief of mine, the fact that I didn’t have to suffer for the rest of my life? I took ownership of my situation. I took responsibility for my own personal growth and healing. I became fully present in my grief. For me to defy the life sentence of pain that so many people told me that I would have to live with, I had to throw myself back into life. I had to wake up each morning with a radical sense of gratitude. I had to pull away from the grief support groups and submerge myself into things that had nothing to do with grief at all. I had to find new friends with similar beliefs. I had to search for beauty and love and kindness and sunshine and inspiration every single day. I had to learn to love myself. I had to learn to forgive myself. I had to forgive others. I had to learn how to mother Christian’s spirit and memory over mourning his death and absence from my life. I wanted to stop being a victim and so I became a survivor instead. This is not something that happened quickly. I could write an article about every sentence in this last paragraph and how I accomplished each one. There is so much to be discussed here and that is why it took me years to get where I am now and it was so worth the effort. Instead of searching for the old me, I had to create a new me and oh, my goodness, what an awesome time I am having with this journey. I had to ask myself who I used to be and who did I want to become. I then gave myself some time to think about who Christian would want me to be. That made the process so much more easier, because the guilt of living an extraordinary life after loss dissolved as I know in my heart that he would want me to live a whole-hearted life. He would not want to be the reason that my life went nowhere.
Please, if you are in the heavy stages of grief, don’t take this article as “You should just hurry up and heal” That is not what I am saying at all. I will always grieve the loss of my son, that is the truth. But I can still live an amazing life and love and miss him at the same time. If you are in the depths of grief, just remember that there is light on the horizon and you have the power to create a beautifully amazing life for yourself even if you can’t see that as a possibility right now. Don’t write your life off just yet. Remember you have a say in all this. You deserve to live an extraordinary life.