I have now lived 534 days without my husband. Inside of those 534 days I have felt unimaginable pain. I have felt like my heart was on fire and bleeding. I have felt like I wanted everything to just go black. I have also felt joy like I have never felt before in my life. Joy that has filled my heart until it almost burst. Joy that filled my eyes with tears just by watching my children hike a bluff and giggle out loud. Joy at the pure beauty of life. It really is true that sometimes you have to shake hands with death before you can completely be grateful for the simplest joys in life.
In 534 days I have been broken. I have been depressed. I have experienced anxiety over new situations. I have been stressed about the fears of my new life. I have been plain old terrified to just move one foot in front of the other. I have cried for entire days. I have screamed through entire nights. I have laid on my husbands grave and begged the universe to just bring the man back to me. I have felt like I will just stay single for the entire rest of my days. I have felt like I want to fall in love again and share my life with someone. I have avoided people. I have avoided myself. And so on and so on.
Inside of those 534 days I have also been happy. I have smiled. I have laughed out loud. I have felt gratitude for what I still have in my life.
It has taken me 534 days to realize and understand that grief is not something that can be fixed. It is not a disease or a sickness that has a cure. Time does not heal all wounds. Some wounds scar over but some of the pain is there......forever.
How do you keep your grief from pulling you under the waves? I don't have all the answers. No pastor, no minister, no bishop, no spiritual mentor, no psychologist or grief expert has all the answers. The simple and very complicated answer is this: You just keep living. You just keep pulling yourself out of bed every single morning even when it hurts like hell. You get up. You make the coffee. You go about your day. You allow yourself to feel your emotions and you try to learn from them. You savor the moments in your life that you feel laughter again, that you feel pure joy just from the sun hitting your face, just from a hug from a friend who cares or a stranger who sends you a kind note. You fully accept that this is now who you are. You are now a person who knows how to live side-by-side with joy and pain. You take care of yourself and throw out anything in your life that isn't aiding in your healing. Yes, you can heal your grief just a little with nature, exercise, healthy eating, spirituality, friendship, love. No it will never fully, fully heal and maybe you wouldn't want it to. Grief is love. It's all the love you want to give to the person who you lost. It's all the hugs you haven't been able to give to them. It's all of the conversations they have missed, and the dinners, and the adventures, and all the times they weren't there to wipe away your tears. And love? Love doesn't die. My husband died but the love is still there.
In 534 days I could have let those wretched waves pull me under until I too left this earth. Instead, I learned to surf. I learned to let go and float. I learned to listen to my emotions and to not push away the feelings of anger. I could have ran away. I could have became an alcoholic to numb the pain. I could have never gotten out of bed. I could have never opened up my curtains and let the sun in.
Instead I choose to believe in love again. I choose to believe that I am still worthy of a beautiful life. I choose to ride those waves when they hit me and yes, they still knock me to the ground.
I choose to do the greatest thing that I believe that I can do for my truest friend. I can live again. I can find joy again. I can get out there and go on adventures that scare the hell out of me. I can fully embrace life and all of it's dark and light times. I can believe that maybe there is a fairytale out there waiting for me still. An alternate reality. I can also believe that maybe I will be ok.....alone.
Has a grief wave hit you this weekend? Lay on your back, relax, and float.
Float until the wave brings you to shore and then get out there and live........again.