Grief. What does it mean to me today? It has been a close personal friend of mine over the last two years, but has graced me with its presence at other points in my life as well. Today, it is a badge I can say I have worn with ... not pride. No. I can say I survived with pride. Or I am surviving. The new year brings with it some old familiar twists in my life. Spasms that are not pleasant, but can anticipate, therefore hopefully not be as bad. Last year near this time, I was beginning to anticipate an upcoming stress. I tried to head it off by becoming busy, but only succeeded in flailing and floundering. The stress I knew about piled on "should's" by the yard, but it was an anniversary that I had not anticipated that threatened to wash me away. I tried to face expectations, but just managed to pile them over top of me until I could not breathe. I was trying to take on life and I was not ready. I had been handling all the life I could, and the should I threw at myself pushed me to the edge. I broke, but I reached out a hand and grabbed onto whatever lifeline I could. I was told to be kind. I was offered prayers of peace. I was reminded that this was grief. The wave would recede. I would survive. It was bad, but it was a lesson. Next time, perhaps I could anticipate better. Reach out for help. Not feel alone. There are people there.
Many have walked through the dark tunnel of grief. It is something we do not talk about. We should. I am constantly surprised by how hard this journey is. Many, many, many moons ago I remember sitting in Wellspring (a wonderful Cancer support centre) after a yoga class. It was my first yoga session after Brad died. A few ladies convinced me to join them for tea after class, as they could see I was upset. They asked me what my story was. I felt sick. It was not my "story"! It was my life! It was raw and more than I could bear. Indeed, it has turned into my story to tell though. It has been a painful story and it is not over yet. I do not have so much pain any more, but I still struggle with who I am and where I am going. This, I am learning, is a common thread though. Sharing my experiences helps me. It not only helps me though. I know my sharing has given others hope and strength where little has been. No one can make all the pain go away. You must walk your path. You must pick up and look at everything along the path of your grief. It is hard work. It takes a long time. Relationships are hard work though and they take time to establish as well. It should not be surprising that grief can cause suffering for so long. We have lost someone that means something to us. One person can fill so many parts of our life. That means that we need to wade through, find all those pieces, accept and mourn every single one of those pieces we have lost. It is a lot of work. It hurts, but for me it has brought great love.
So why this path today? Is it because I had dinner with my Aunt who is suffering through her own loss? Is it because an anticipated stressor is coming back to the table again? Or is it my little notebook that travelled in my purse last year catching snippets of my life on the fly, that fell across my table this morning and revealed pieces of painful me last year? Or is it just because this is who I am? Grief has touched me. It is a part of me and always will be. I will not always be actively grieving, but my grief will be there forever. I grieve my father, who I could have been, my husband, who we were supposed to be and what we were supposed to have and I grieve the loss of me and who I was. There is a new me that I work on every day. Some days it is not hard. Many days were. Today I reflect.