Have you ever felt isolated in your grief because there is not another soul on this planet that can understand your loss? That there was NO WAY society, your friends or your family could even come close to feeling the pain you walk with every single day? And although it’s exhausting to remind them that yes, your heart is still broken, so draining each time you have to re-explain to them why you can’t just “move on” from it, doesn’t it stand true that you still don’t want to be forgotten? Because for you, the pain from your loss is everywhere and in everything, never to be forgotten, how could you forget? Perhaps your mind has told you the same words as mine, that they got tired of seeing you in grief or maybe they really did forget about the heartache you carry within you every day? What would you do in order to be seen exactly as you are, in this moment of your life? Nothing to be fixed, nothing to change, just you and your grief.
Free writing can be a very powerful avenue for expressing yourself, and it is also an accessible step towards self care and healing that won’t be overwhelming, grief does enough of that. Free writing is letting all of your thoughts/feelings/emotions spill from your mind and land on paper. No pausing. No editing. No special format. Just keep it flowing until your last thought is out. I had avoided writing a blog (mostly because of my own insecurities). Unintentionally my first blog found me, what was meant to be a few sentences for another piece, turned into the words below pouring out of my heart. For me, if just one person ends up not feeling so alone in their grief because of it, then I can be vulnerable and share this with you.
A Letter To My Grief
I knew you would show up one day in my life, but never did I imagine meeting you when I was so young, I wanted more time first. I didn’t have the skills to “deal” with you. It was impossible to have known how much you would influence my life…Grief, you literally broke my heart. My hope was lost, and my will to survive, well that changed. In a moment you and the Universe decided to take it upon yourselves to remove all of the air from my world, and then you said to me “Go on now, keep living and breathing in this world without air.”
You broke me. Every single ounce of my being felt pain. Like glass dropped onto the floor, my world shattered into a million pieces. You came out of nowhere without warning and you changed my world forever, over and over again. Each time I begged you not to come, I pleaded with you, told you that YOU had made a mistake, not again. I thought I knew you, thought I would be able to recognize you and see you coming, then I could brace myself for your blow but with each loss that you accompanied you were not the same as before, you seemed unrecognizable. Yet, when I looked into your eyes a part of me knew we had met before.
Maybe I was different too, a little older each time, more defeated and hopeless. I looked at you from my door and I said to you “Go away Grief, this is not your home, leave me alone.” I never could get used to the sound of your knock. I remember how you always felt at first, cold and strong. The depths of you being unfathomable. Each time I was shocked at your enormity. You were so strong, it was too much, I didn’t realize it when it happened but my body blocked you out. I went into survival mode, shutting down, locking you and this new world out.
Fight, flight, or freeze kicked in, my body chose freeze. It was all I knew how to do. You were too much, too big for me to understand. I was even lucky enough to forget that you were there, living with me in that numb/frozen state of being. But you were always there, like a shadow, mimicking my body; sometimes behind me, other moments right in front of me, always by my side, but I couldn’t look at you. I think I always knew you were going to be a part of me, and I just was not ready to face you. So you waited for me.
Grief, I didn’t want to understand you. I didn’t want to listen to what you were trying to tell me. Each time you hurt me so deeply. You made me weak, and too sensitive. With each visit you took more of my trust. You invited fear into my world. When did a missed phone call begin to be more than just a missed call? My body insisted it was more than that, it spoke softly filled with unease, praying you could not hear us because we knew we were not safe from you, you were capable of coming back whenever you wanted. My body said to panic, worry, something was wrong, I needed to make sure they were OK. An argument could no longer be left without finding peace, because god forbid you decided to find a new way into my life. Grief, you took over my entire world without me knowing how to stop you. How could you do that to me? Why did you have to choose my world? I was incapable of hearing your response, but you kept waiting.
After all of that, I did not die, I somehow found little sips of air, small shallow breaths, in and out. I don’t know why exactly but I began to look around at the shattered glass that was my life scattered across the floor. I was sure that my eyes were playing a trick on me, teasing me with a sense of hope I did not recognize anymore. Each piece reflected tiny shimmers of light back to me. Grief, I think this is when I started to come back from the numb fog that I thought was my life. I pulled myself up, unsure of my footing. With a broken heart and tears cascading down my face trailing along my neck and landing on my heart, I began to very carefully and gently pick up the broken pieces of my world. I paused and looked at them remembering all of the beauty they once held, the life I had lived. I started to piece them back together, to repair it to whole, but I knew deep within my soul that it was never going to look, and feel the same. It simply could not be what it once was. I will never be who I once was. I put the final piece back in its place and stepped back to look at this life that I didn’t ask for but was told belonged to me now. I began to see the beauty in the cracks because the light shined differently from them. These cracks are memories of my other world. It’s amazing how it can feel like a lifetime ago and still just a breath away. I find myself looking at them with more love than suffering now.
You see Grief I realized I had to grow around you. I learned that you were not here to break me, but you would not shrink yourself for me either. I decided to live when for so long I tried to disappear. I created strength that I didn’t think was ever capable of being found in this new world. My strength here is not the same, my strength is surrendering and accepting you Grief. I am even starting to believe my inner voice when I tell myself “I am not weak, I am not broken nor am I too sensitive. No. I am love, I am a soul that is filled with compassion,” and it’s because I met you Grief.
You waited for me, after all that time. You waited to show me why you were here. I remember the moment after finally inviting you in when I held you close to my heart, where you were always meant to be and I whispered to you, “There, there, I see you now. I know you did not want to bring all this pain and sadness with you. I know each moment we spent together you were only trying to show me all of the love that you are. You were created out of that love. I see you now. I am here, I will not abandon you any longer. Listen to my words Grief, I welcome you for all that you are and all that you have shown me. I understand now that we will always be together, because the love you came from will never die. I am aware that some of our days together will have more tears than others, and that some of them will have no choice but to bring the swelling pain. My body knows when some of the tougher days are coming (birthdays and anniversaries) and it will try to prepare me, and I know some of those days will come out of nowhere and knock the wind out of me. It’s alright now, I know together we will find our way back. I hope that each and every day you remind me of the love you represent. You don’t have to hide from me anymore. I know that it was not you that brought the fear, trauma and anxiety into my world. It was Death. But Death cannot take love with it.”
So here we are, I know this is not the end for us. I know with every loss you will come back in a new form, still just as big and strong. I will remind myself that you are a reflection of love and because of that you have no choice but to bring pain with you. Grief, if I could turn back time and never have met you, I would. I know that hurts, but it’s the truth. But since I am not a magician, maybe you can tell Death something for me? Tell Death I said, “That’s enough now.” Tell Death that “I pray for many, many years to pass before you come back into my world. I know there will never be enough time, but give my world as much of it as you can spare, and with my last breath I will know that I chose to live a life of love and meaning.”
With Love Always, Caroline
Now it’s your turn, grab your favorite pen and paper, use a typewriter, the ‘Notes’ app on your phone, or write it in a google document. Get. It. Out. Maybe you’ll end up turning your letter into your own blog. Post it on social media baring your soul. Burn it, and then send it out to the Universe. Keep it safely locked away for just your eyes to witness, or tuck it close to your beautiful heart. You wanna know what else is really powerful? Whatever the heck you decide to do with it. No one gets to tell you how to heal. It’s powerful because it was created by you. So do you think you can take this step with me and show the world just how much your loss changed everything for you? I hope you do, it would be my honor to witness yours.