Grief Doesn't Quit, and Neither Should You
We all want to avoid it.
Collectively, we work hard to move past the grief once it touches us.
But how do you move past the feeling of drowning in grief? When you feel the heaviness as if the weight of the world is on your shoulders, and it doesn't let up. Lately, I have felt that heavy feeling too, friends. I know it well. I've seen so many messages come through Colton's Kindness recently, so I want to address that heavy feeling of loss.
Here's a not so well-kept secret: You don't move past it. Seriously. That's the bad news. The idea that one mourns a loss, and gets over it achieving full closure, is a myth.
That's not to say that you won't lead a fulfilling life with many happy moments. You won't always be the sad person telling everyone your sad story, and being pushed toward the other "sad people" by well-meaning individuals before you've even consumed your last post-funeral casserole. You will dance, sing, laugh, love, and live a beautiful life again. Often during this period, to the outside world, it will appear that you have moved on. That couldn't be further from the truth.
The other day, as I was scrolling Facebook, I spotted a saying that stated, "Check on your strong friend," and it resonated with me. See, the people who seem the strongest or happiest, could be struggling the most. That friend whom you think is "doing so great," and "is the strongest person you know;" may not be. They may not be in that minute, hour, day, or even a full month. Your strong friends need you too. I can attest to that. I pride myself on my honesty and pulling people toward the light, but I experience my fair share of darkness, too. Generally, I combat darkness with humor, friends, writing, and my love of all things chocolate. Sometimes, those things don't hold a candle to the heaviness that is felt in my heart. Boy, have I felt that heaviness lately. If you're a friend who sent a message, I love you so much for so many things, but especially for that.
Grief creates emotional memories, and since you can't erase emotional memory, the emotions connected to your loss will be triggered in the future. In the beginning it will happen often, and later on, it will be more occasional. Triggers can be one of my dark places.
A few days ago, Avery and I were in the sunroom of our home. My daughter loves Sesame Street, so I gave no second thought to turning it on while I washed dishes. What I didn't expect, was to hear a song sung to Colton 3 days before he died, blaring through our living room television at full volume. The synopsis of the song, I Don't Want to Live on the Moon is that Bert wants to go stay on the moon, but upon being there, gets scared, and decides he doesn't want to live there because he wants to return home to those that he loves. A searing pain shot through me mixed with immediate tears. I was shocked. It was as if I was back in his ICU room, listening to the music therapist singing that exact song, as members of our family cradled my unresponsive son.
There are other triggers, of course. I tear up, as if on cue, anytime I try to read The Night Before Preschool, and can barely make it through singing the song, You Are My Sunshine, since it was what I consistently sang to Colton. I could name so many, but I won't. I'm sure you have your own triggers connected to your loved one, and I wish that I could hug you and reassure you that it's okay, normal even, to experience this.
I want to leave you with a piece of good news. Every time you move through a trigger, you have won. You have encountered something unimaginably painful, and emerged a stronger person than you were before. I know it doesn't feel that way sometimes, but each tiny event that you overcome, adds to your strength as an individual. Stop believing that you are weak for not being able to get over your loss.
You're not weak, it is just not an option to get over a loss of someone who held such a huge piece of your heart during their time on this Earth.
Grief was never meant to be conquered in a linear fashion. It ebbs and flows. You have so many people in your corner, that you are NEVER alone. I know it hurts, but I know it gets better, too. I have been you, and still am you, occasionally when triggers strike, but don't give up. Even when grief becomes heavy and all consuming, don't you ever give up.
If you'd like to submit yourself to receive a tribute to your loved one from Colton's Kindness, please use the tab for Gifts of Remembrance at the top menu. You will submit a short form clarifying the item you would like to receive in support.
If you're feeling like you truly can't move through your grief, please use the resource listed below.