This is not the life you envisioned.
You have cried tears that could fill an ocean or two. You never knew it was possible to cry this much.
And this is the last group you ever dreamed you would resonate with. Bereaved moms and dads.
You might even loathe that there is a name, club, Facebook community, group, etc, out there to label you. I get it, I hate it too. This unnatural order of things. The fact that there are enough of us to gather, hold hands around this metaphorical campfire and listen with bleeding hearts, because while our stories are wildly different, our mother hearts and father hearts have been been cracked wide open with the same searing pain.
You have been stranded on this island of grief, and incredible pain for what feels like forever.
But you know all this. You’ve lived the impossible.
You’ve smiled fake smiles, attended social functions against your better judgement, escaped into bathrooms to compose yourself, ruffled some feathers with your anger, jealousy, overwhelming sadness, inability to “move on” and the list goes on. You watched your child take his or her last breath, and you find small talk nauseating at best. You have survived the impossible.
You are still standing, and breathing, and you have no earthly idea how that is even possible.
Keep walking, keep breathing, keep standing.
Fall when you need to, cry your face off.
Embrace the incredible pain. There is no way around it. There is no easy way out. No one can do this for you, this is your pain to bear, and one day your story to tell.
Sit in the place that is calling your name, for as long as you need to. Don’t let society call the shots on your grief – whether that be rushing into being alright again too quickly OR sitting in sadness for longer than you need to. Guide your own heart. There is no right amount of tears to cry. What a ridiculous thought. There is no one on this earth that can tell you when you’ve cried enough or not enough. You call the shots. End of story.
Grief is a mess. She makes absolutely no sense. She will kick you down, she will ignite fires in your heart, she will make you want to smash dishes and swear like a sailor. She will pour words into your heart and love into your soul. She will recreate you, and will always be a part of you.
But, you must believe me when I say, she will not always be the only thing about you, ever.
Do you believe me? It’s okay if you can’t see it now.
I should pause right here and tell you a secret.
The First Day of the Rest of Your Life depends on you. You are bearing this impossible pain. And no matter how impressive your tribe is, you are still doing the hardest work to be done… alone. Others can empathize, and God bless their hearts – they try. But there is no way to transcend this pain without experiencing it first hand. There just isn’t.
You. Are. Doing. This. And you get to do this, your way.
Hurt for as long as you need to hurt. Cry for as long as you need to cry. Stay isolated and under your covers, and Netflix binge for as long as you need to. Cut ties with those that aren’t serving you this very moment, but… there will come a day. There just will.
You will grow weary of the walls you’ve built. And I’m all for walls. I was going for the Wall of China, personally. But somewhere in the building I got tired.
I’m not suggesting that you go seeking this day out, or forcing it on yourself. I am saying EMBRACE this day. That day you get tired of the walls, be brave enough to tear them down. Walls can give the illusion of safety, but in reality there is no room for personal growth. Dare yourself to let the light in.
You have lost more than most people will ever lose in a lifetime. You have to believe that you hold the keys (you didn’t ask for them, or ever want them, but they’re yours nonetheless) to the door to live this life on a deeper scale. Past shallow living.
When that day comes, dare yourself. Dare yourself to take your grief into yet another uncomfortable and new territory.
What have you got to lose?
Franchesca Cox is the founder of Still Standing Magazine. She is currently seeking her Master’s in Occupational Therapy, a yogi and author of Celebrating Pregnancy Again and Facets of Grief, a creative workbook for grieving mothers. Learn more about her heartwork on her website.