The Journey Inside Me: Acceptance & Other Things Grief Taught Me
People often use the phrase “grief isn’t linear” or “healing isn’t linear” and I believe they mean this with the best of intentions and, on the surface, understand the premise. However, how often have you stopped to consider what that actually, truly means?
Anything that we learn experientially, we learn with a deeper understanding. One could say that experiential learning is ingrained into our physical being; hence why most people never forget how to ride a bike but could forget a random fact from history class. Grief is no different. Most of us, I believe, understand on a surface level that life is subject to change. But when you lose someone, especially suddenly, it creates an imprint into your being, into your psyche, into your soul, that reminds you that literally nothing is permanent. And in fact, that impermanence can show itself to you in as quickly as a millisecond. That’s it. That’s all it takes to completely change someone’s world…one single millisecond.
For me, the reminder of this fact of life (nothing is permanent and things can change at the drop of a dime) opened up a very raw sense of loss of safety. On some days I felt completely out of control, vulnerable to an infinite number of circumstances that could potentially rob me of people I love, and unsure what to do about any of it. This all on top of the actual, simple sadness of having lost someone I love. On other days, I felt a sense of universal connection that I’d never experienced before, I felt inspired to go out and live and create and say and do the things that matter most to me, and live my best possible life. Sometimes, I felt the polarity of these two things within the span of 24 hours. Sometimes, within the span of 60 minutes. Sometimes with no order or clear catalyst for one or the other, just this sudden awareness of the fullness of whichever emotion was rising. This is what it means when people say grief isn’t linear. There is no way to plan it out. And iterations of it can occur with absolutely no identifiable reason why. One year after a loss, you can be having the most delicious meal and suddenly become very presently reminded of your sadness/anger/longing…not because it’s the anniversary of your loved one’s death, or their birthday, or because the song you both loved came on the radio…simply, just because.
For example, I launched an entire product on June 10th. And since then, I’ve done almost nothing with it. Why? Because I felt myself slipping into a state of anxiety that I didn’t like; I was tired a lot, anxious almost every time the phone rang about what I’d hear on the other side and yet felt unable to pause because of all the responsibilities I was holding. So slowly but surely, my motivation shifted almost completely to self-care mode and I started letting go of responsibilities in order to give myself room to grieve. To be with my feelings without the guilt of the many obligations I’d be losing track of if I let myself have my moments when I needed them. This on the heels of months of beautiful, inspired creativity that led to the creation of my new product. Seemingly, “out of nowhere.” This is what grief can look like. This is part of what it has looked like for me. And I am honoring it by simply being with each moment. By relinquishing my sense of control and allowing my emotions to come and go, allowing my inspiration to come and go, and allowing myself to find honest balance in the midst of it all. I am allowing myself to speak my truths more honestly than ever before. I am allowing myself to say “no”, or “yes”, when I want to and without the need for explanation. I am speaking honestly about my feelings because it frees me up and it gives the people around me permission to do the same. I am clearing my space (literally and figuratively) of anything and anyone that does not serve my present self. And recognizing my very own habits and patterns that contribute to the expression, or suffocation, of my truth. I am recognizing that I do not have the authority, desire or energy to try to walk out someone else’s truth for them; or convince them to do it for themselves if they are not willing to. I am recognizing that all I can do is walk in my own truth, in every moment, and those whose journeys are meant to be impacted by mine (and vice versa) will light up and share space with me. I am allowing myself to be with it all. Because, grief.
Grief is not just about “getting over” the fact that someone or something has passed, it’s not just about being sad or missing someone. Grief is learning to trust your joy again, grief is allowing yourself to feel safe (and trust your safety) again, grief is learning the true meaning of “unconditional”, learning what it means to allow, learning how to practice grace. Grief is giving yourself room to feel your feelings without judgment. It is allowing yourself to feel the depths or your highs and lows, knowing that you will be ok. Grief is relearning how to live, with this new ingrained knowledge that life is fragile and deserves to be honored. Grief is accepting your divine connection to God (Spirit, the Universe, Shakti, etc.), and that we are all connected to that Source. Grief is learning that there is a magnitude to our spiritual energy that far surpasses what words can describe. And no, it is not linear. There is no way to end this process. What there is, I believe, is an integration of all of the knowledge that grief will present you as a sweet gift for undergoing the process of being in relationship to it. You must, however, enter the relationship in order to experience that love. And know that the relationship is deeply personal, and also innately universal, all at the same time. People may understand the context of it and still have no idea how it is unfolding for you.
Or, people may not understand the context of it at all. They may see your joy, or your sadness, as inappropriate given their idea of where you “should be” relative to your grief. They may believe grief is your excuse. Or, they may believe joy is an inauthentic demonstration you are using to block your sadness. They may never understand that you can have both. They may be offended by your loud, or your quiet. They may desire for your expression to look different. Let them. Just as they cannot control your experience of grief, neither can you control their understanding of it.
No, grief is not linear. It is all encompassing, it is deep, it is transformative, it is one of the most difficult and yet, one of the most rewarding processes one can undergo.
If you are grieving, I pray that these words support you and I pray that in your acceptance of your unique process, you find love, peace, joy and liberation. Because after all, that is where our loved ones are now. Those energies are where they call home, and we are always welcome to commune with them in that space while living our own full lives here on this side.
If you know someone that is grieving, allow them. Ask them what they need, and do not judge the answer. It is also not easy to be the person supporting someone in this ever evolving and complex process. I pray that these words support you in your journey alongside them and you are able to find a balance between being present and releasing any desire to control, or influence, their process.
To all of my angels, I love you deeply. And, I love myself more for it. Thank you for your eternal presence and loving guidance.
With Gratitude & Infinite Love,