Grief is a complex journey. It is a process neither linear nor easy. If you’ve experienced loss, there are many helpful resources and professionals that can support your process. But you know there is no getting over or forgetting about the one you’re grieving. Rather, there is life beyond their existence, a life marked by deep love and deep loss.
Because, like love, the experience of loss expands who we are and leaves a lasting mark.
At the beginning of summer break, I was hit with the painful and vaguely familiar state of profound grief. It is a feeling I dread, and yet I understand it is inescapable for someone who loves deeply and travels a human journey. It started with a shocking phone call that set off a 24-hour nightmare and, ultimately, a life forever changed once more.
My beautiful, vibrant 40-year-old sister-in-law and friend suffered a massive stroke out of nowhere. She left behind two young daughters, a husband, parents, a sister, nieces and nephews, and a great number of close family and friends — whose lives will never be the same.
While the forward motion of life is inevitable, losing someone you love is a lifelong journey. Loss can change how you think and feel and how you view the world before you. It has the potential to open your heart to the blessings around you, or to harden and weather you to your very core.
There is no right or wrong way to do life, or to journey through grief and loss. When we are gentle with ourselves and acknowledge that grief takes countless forms, we are reminded that our feelings are a human experience — not a life sentence or evidence that we are doing it wrong.
Having experienced deep love and deep loss at various points along my human journey, I have found the grief process to be personal, at times chaotic, and at other times flat. It can also be surprising and profound and, to a certain degree, beautiful. In a strange way, the experience of loss has given me a heightened sense of feeling alive.
Feelings can become amplified as a result of loss. The tender ache in your heart and queasy sensation in your stomach can swallow you up as you come to grips with the absurd idea that you’ll never see your loved one in human form again. Time can…