I always thought that grief was something that came and then went. It was something that happened in the aftermath of a tragedy but then, as with most things in life, it healed and you moved on. Then I lost my son and my whole world changed forever. Grief consumed my entire being and there was no sign of it letting up. It took me a long time to realise that my new normal would be living side by side with grief. It took me even longer to get comfortable with it.
When I first lost my son I wondered how I would survive. How could I ever live a life where I didn’t feel this awful aching and longing to have him with me? Sadness, sadness, and more sadness, that is all there seemed to be. It really felt like there wasn’t room for anything else. Darkness consumed me.
Then, slowly but surely, hope started to shine through once more.
It started with a little smile here and there and progressed into the rebuilding of my entire life, my entire self. Against all the odds I started living again. I think I expected that if this ever happened it would be because I was healed. The awful sadness would be behind me and I could embrace life again.
Now that I am here, over a year and a half down the line, I realise that the awful sadness will never be behind me. I realise that it is a part of me now. I no longer feel emotions in isolation. Extreme happiness is often paired with extreme sadness. They live there together, side-by-side. I find myself getting caught. My joyous moment is interrupted as the tiny dagger in my heart reminds me that he is not here. For no matter what happens, no matter how good it is, I can never escape the fact that a part of me is missing.
For a long time, I thought that there was something wrong with this, that there was something wrong with me.
I needed to just focus on the positive and not let the sadness and grief penetrate through. But how can you do this? How can you control this? The answer is that you can’t. You feel what you feel and that is ok. It is ok to miss him. It is ok to want him here to share in the happy times.
So now when that happens I react differently. I take a moment to I remind myself that it is normal to feel this way. I take a breath and remember how much I love him and how much good he has brought to my life. And it feels ok. The grief can live there alongside the love and happiness and hope. For as long as I live I will miss my boy and I will never feel shame in that.
Photo by Jade on Unsplash