Thursday, 30 October 2014

Ask Me Anything: Grief

A couple weeks ago I wrote another Ask Me Anything, and @kristin.rn left me this message on instagram,

"I know you lost your father last year. My mom is very ill and will not make it through. I wanted to know how did you cope after such a huge loss"

Whew... This was a tall order, and one I have a given a lot of thought. So today, I am going to talk about Grief and Healing. (*grab a cup a coffee this is a long one*)

So first of all, grief is deeply personal. I would argue that there is almost no other process quite as personal, so I don't believe there is a one size fits all answer here. Watching my family grieve over this past year has shown me how different grief is for each individual - the way we feel it, what brings us peace, and where we are in the process - has been different for everyone. And that is okay.

Grief like this, is overwhelming in a way I am not sure I can adequately describe. The pain of losing someone so important to you is devastating. My grief has given me pause, made me question my direction, refocus on my core values, and reflect on the life that I have been given. 

Grief is about accepting a new unwanted reality. It is hard. And something I am still very much working on.

My best advice, is to be kind to yourself and allow yourself to feel. Accept that grief is a process, so it is okay to be in that process.

In the first few months, I felt my grief everyday. It was at the forefront of my mind, and pervaded all of my thoughts. It would often hit me out of nowhere - while walking the dog, out on a run, driving to work. I would think of my Dad - something I wanted to tell him, something that reminded me of him - and then I would realize that he is gone. In that moment my heartaches and tears flow.

It is a pain you cannot hide from. So I let myself feel it. I cried almost everyday. Usually just a few tears, while I tried to carry on with whatever it was I was doing. But the pain was there.

I think it is important to feel that pain, but not to hold on to it. Feel that pain, so you can let it go. 

Feeling the pain, the sadness, the disappointment, and the loss are natural and necessary. But you cannot allow those feelings and that darkness to swallow you up. You need to feel them to let them go. Those dark emotions will not serve you going forward.

As you carve out your path for healing, you will discover what brings you a sense of comfort and peace. Those are the things you must hold on to. Hold on to that light. Hold on to that love. Those are things that will carry you through.

For me, that has meant slowing down and spending more time with the people who matter most. I have been concentrating on being present. And I have been focusing on cherishing the things I have have, rather than simply grieving the things I have lost. And each day I feel grateful to have had such an amazing father for as long as I did.

I want to tell you that it gets so much easier in time. And part of that statement is true. In the last year I have found a peaceful place for my grief. I have healed and begun to move forward. But that loss is still there.

There are still moments where I long to talk to my Dad. I want him to be there for one of my crazy stories, because I know it is only something he will get and fully appreciate. And there are life moments that I absolutely dread facing without him - like buying a house and having children. These are all moments I thought he would be here for. And those moments are going to be just as painful as the first day. I know this, I accept this, and when the time comes I will feel it. The pain is still there, but it is not as pervasive as it once was. Grief is always a work in process.

Grief is hard. But please know that you are not alone.
Time will help you heal and moving forward will require some work.
Just know that where ever you are, is exactly where you need to be.
Sending you healing, love, and light.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,
Krysten