I have hated the word “manage” “adjust” “cope”….how do you do that I wondered, when I lost someone I loved. I was convinced the pain would never go away and the fear that people could see me come apart with my insides hanging out – embarrassed, awkward trying not to meet my eye, not knowing “the right thing to say”. Unfortunately, there are no social lessons in how to deal with people who are grieving besides shame being quite a constant one …”pull yourself together” “don’t make a spectacle of yourself” “be dignified”, while all I wanted to was just scream my lungs out and pull everything down. Again. And again. BUT, yes there’s always a beautiful but, I did pull myself together, even though most of the days..months..years I walked around with a hollow ache. And as horrible and terrible as it sounds, it didn’t kill me. Which is almost cruel…I was left to deal with the aftermath not knowing what to make of it.
It gets better – yes, it does…I didn’t break down. I went about doing things which had to be done. Day after day. It is hard. Very hard. But, it’s possible. Recently at a friends get together, one them wanted to know the exact details of what had happened. While, at the back of my head I could just marvel at her insensitivity, on the face of it I was answering with a calmness that even surprised me. And I realised a very important thing, I truly honoured my loved one’s memory now. I just remember the wonderful times we shared, the kindness, the immeasurable love that was brought to my life and to the person I have become today. Nothing, but pure gratitude and a lot of pride for being a part of a short journey that I had shared.
While the storms may have weathered me, and sure I have changed, I can recognise grief now…at times I can recognise it in a brief meeting. I didn’t have the compassion I have today. And yes, I value love far more than I did. I don’t take it casually anymore. Yes, I do falter – and it may seem like a lot of work now – but it’s worth it. Every bit of it. I don’t hesitate to roll my sleeves and work on myself again and again.
I understand that the people you love in your life, can let you down. Your friends can leave you, your family may play on your fears and emotionally manipulate you and encourage you to sacrifice your entire remaining life, encourage you not to commit to anyone and not seek happiness for yourself. Because, that would make you very selfish. Plus, they will remind you of all the guarantees you can’t get in life. No-one really has the time in this day to stop and tell you, “I value you – just for who you are”. And sure, it’s hard not to get bitter and angry when horrible things happen to you. And I am also not saying, that enjoy your suffering and this is how life is…On the contrary, there are heartbreaks we shouldn’t have to deal with. Just because I dealt with a loss, does not make me an expert to deal with more. No. There are no answers here – because all that I said above is possible and may happen to you and some of you could be going through with it as I write. Yes, it may feel like an eternity of a bad spell, but I firmly believe, it’s just creating space in your life for good things to come. You just have to grit your teeth till then. And believe in it. Daily. Every day, every hour. Every 5 minutes, if required.
Life is to be lived, gloriously without regrets. We are not meant to suffer for the rest of our lives. Don’t apologise for yourself and don’t give up on yourself. It’s okay, if you’re just getting by now, just know you’re not helpless or damaged.
Seek help. It’s brave and courageous. And remember, you have to get the energy moving. Refuse to stagnate. Reach out and make that effort. Yes, even when things are horrible and you feel stuck, I want you to hold on to that faith that, “things will get better”.
I think you learn to live with grief. For me it’s my gentle reminder not to give up on myself.
It has made me choose the work I do today – with an ability to help others get clarity and maybe heal in whatever little way I can. Pain no longer scares me, there’s a sense of strength when I am counselling people who are dealing with it. I find it easy to reach out to friends who are in distress. Yes, I have moved on, I have just refused to give up.
Lastly, don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t deserve better and don’t feel guilty about falling in love again and creating a new life for yourself. Don’t stop living and trusting life. A ton of good stuff can emerge from some painful experiences as well.