I have been catapulted into a new life... a new life where I am living with grief. Some days, it doesn't actually feel like I'm living, more like I am being suspended in time, with my mind completely disconnected from my body. Someone will say something to me, and I will look at them, startled. "Where the fuck did you come from? Where am I? Are you talking to me?" Other days, or perhaps moments of the day, I feel like a person. Myself? No, but at least like a human who has varying emotions and thoughts.
I have always been aware of grief, of course. I have experienced it many times and have had to move through it with death and loss. But this grief? The grief of losing the rock of our family, the one who had the answers, the fun one, the grounding one, the pillar of strength... IT.IS.BRUTAL. Physically and emotionally all consuming. Heartbreaking. Terrifying. Horrific.
Grief has overtaken my life. And it's only been three weeks to the day. 21 days. You could tell me it's been 3 years, and I'd agree. You could tell me it's been 3 minutes, and I'd also agree. Time has no place in the face of grief. I've been pulled into a state where I'm the only one left. Everyone else feels distant. I'm lonely. Even when I'm not alone. Even though I have countless people to support me. And I'm vulnerable. Strangers say things that feel like they're attacking me. I overhear conversations that seem so trivial. So superficial. My tolerance level for everything has diminished. It feels like I'm hungover, there is an alarm ringing in my ear, someone is poking me in the back and I'm hungry... all while trying to listen to a story about school or try to figure out what I'm going to make for dinner. I have lost a part of myself to grief. This little tiny word, that doesn't even follow the spelling rules. This little word that I hadn't been familiar with to this level until now.
And my heart. Fuck. My heart. It goes out to everyone who has felt this amount of pain, ever. It has made me review my reactions to my clients and friends. Did I show enough support? Enough empathy? Enough compassion? Probably not, because I never truly understood the depth of it until now. Sending so much love and compassion and empathy to all of you.
If you love, you will grieve. Many say that grief is love with no where to go. I feel this deeply. I am trying to find places to put my love for my dad, but I'm not ready yet. Right now, I'm drowning in grief. And that's ok. It's necessary.
What I've learned in the past three weeks living with grief while trying to move on with life:
* Learn to move with grief, you can't run from it... but you also can't be consumed by it completely or it will eat you up. It's a balance of mourning and loving, loving and mourning. Reliving memories... being grateful for the time you did have... smiling at pictures...finding the good. And then feeling the anger...the resentment...the heartache...the "why him?" And moving back and forth between this balance. Allowing emotions to come up...but not letting them bury you. Taking time for yourself.. but not being isolated. It's a dance. A grief dance.
* Your grief is your journey. No one can tell you how to feel and when to feel it. No one can tell you when you'll feel better or how bad it will get.
* Choose one little thing to do each day to help you feel like a person. Shower, go for a walk, read, meditate, do breath work, talk with a friend...find ways to bring yourself comfort. Try to limit the ways that will cause more depression and anxiety... sugar, alcohol, drugs... etc
* Stay hydrated and keep your electrolytes balanced, take magnesium and eat protein. You already feel like shit emotionally, let's not make it worse physically.
* You don't have to listen to everyone on everything. Take advice, accept help and support. But don't forget this is your process. You can take what you want from conversations, articles and books. There is no one right recipe.
* Watch your thoughts. What thoughts are actually fear and anxiety talking? Which ones can you settle down by grounding and going inward?
* Be open to signs. Read about angels and life after death. It brings peace and comfort knowing many believe in an afterlife, and that our loved ones are here, just in a different form.
* It's ok to accept help. Even if you're not used to asking for it. Even if it feels really uncomfortable and you don't like putting anyone out. You need help. You can take it.
* Give yourself grace to be where you are right now. You are not your best self, and that's okay. You are doing the best you can today. And that is enough.
* Practice self compassion. Your nervous system is fucked. Don't make it worse by beating yourself up and punishing yourself.
* Speaking of your nervous system... regulate it.
Welcome grief and don't resist it. Feel it to heal it. Don't run because it's scary. Take your time. And don't forget to mother fuckin' breathe.