I’ve been fortunate (there’s a word I never thought I’d use in reference to myself after losing my son) to have wise and wonderful companions walking alongside me during the acute, panic-attack phases of my grief journey.
Their words to me have become the inner voice I use to talk myself through these overwhelming grief attacks.
They’ve taught me to offer myself compassion and grace and given me something to cling to when the panic sets in.
Below I detail one such episode. I hope to pass this gift of love along to another struggling soul when they need to hear it most.
It’s ok to fall apart.
Here, today, just for now, it’s safe to feel it all.
I’ve got you; you aren’t alone. I know that this pain comes from so deep inside that it feels like it might blow you apart if you let it come roaring out of its cage.
But it won’t break you.
It’s ok to feel it all. There’s so much.
And you’ve been so strong.
Days, weeks, months of doing what must be done, of striving to do it well, of seeking joy and conjuring up more love to give away, of centering yourself and acknowledging your grief but searching for the meaning that still exists in today.
It’s so much work, and you are finding some success.
But you are tired, it’s all taking a toll.
And sometime, somewhere, you need to set it all down.
For a few moments.
You get to do that.
I know it’s terrifying, and that you’re afraid that you’ll never pull the pieces together again, and I know that you’re acutely aware of how much is riding on your success.
To feel it all
For just right now.
I’ll sit here with you. Breathe with you.
Watch each tear fall. Hear the ragged breaths that you draw.
Feel the sting and the ache with you.
Remind you that in this breaking is so much strength.
Take the time that you need to let it out. To exhale the sharpest pain.
To acknowledge that this is real.
To remind yourself that you aren’t failing.
You aren’t beaten.
You are grieving, and fighting to engage with life anyway, right where it hurts the most.
You are so brave.
When I think it has passed, I look outside my kitchen window and see a solitary cardinal perched on the fence, turning and calling. Such a small bright spot in a world of grey.
I wish I could keep it here, hold it, feel it flutter against my cupped hands, draw comfort from its enlivened energy. It flies off, and another wave hits.
I feel. I cry.
I connect. I breathe.
And when it’s over, I pour a cup of coffee, and I keep going.
Because there is still beauty out there, and there are many other fragile birds that need to be held.