Grief: Lessons I’ve learned along the way.

It has been a long road after losing my family. Those that had also experienced loss, were my lighthouses. And through their experience, strength and hope, I was able to eventually find my own. Thank you to the lighthouses before me that helped me find my way back to shore.

Grief isn’t linear. 

There is no timeline. The stages of grief don’t always go in a perfect order. 

Grief doesn’t discriminate. 

Doesn’t matter how good of a person you are or how much you pray. Life happens on life’s terms. 

Grief bursts are a thing. 

A grief burst is a sudden burst of grief that you cannot escape. 10 years later  in a grocery store you may find yourself crying over cheese. Or maybe that’s just me. 

You never graduate from grief. 

You never get over it. You learn to move forward with it.

Sometimes life just doesn’t make sense.

There are many things that happen that are out of my control. There was nothing I could have done to stop their deaths. And me trying to make sense of it all is me trying to control it. Control is an illusion.

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.

Life around us continues. 

It feels weird at first. Your world stops and everyone else is just going on with theirs. I felt guilty moving on with mine at first. And then I realized that they would want me to. I didn’t move on without them. I moved forward with them. 

There is no playbook or GPS system. 

Oh how I wish there was. 

Grief is individual. 

I may not grieve like someone else. And that’s ok. 

Everything doesn’t happen for a reason. 

Maybe some things do. But not the deaths of my family. (IMO) I have been able to find meaning and purpose in my pain. But will NEVER think all the deaths I have been through were for a “reason.”

I have found a God of my own understanding.

I was so pissed at God for so long. But once I began to understand that I am not immune to pain and difficult times, I began to redefine my relationship with God. God became more about love and less about this dude in the sky that allows bad things to happen to good people. God became more about peace and comfort. God became an energy that I feel and I see in others. And the God I believe in became way bigger then the one I grew up with.

Acceptance and surrender. 

Both have given me peace. I cannot change what happened. I cannot fight the waves. I can only do my best and learn how to ride them. Sometimes they knock the shit out of me. But I do my best to get back up and keep trudging.

Being gentle with myself is not optional.

Being gentle with myself is not optional. Death anniversaries, birthdays, holidays can be tough one year and maybe not as tough the next. I’ve learned to take the pressure off thinking I’ve always got to do something big in their honor. One year I may put their pictures in storage. And the next year I may spend hours digging them out. Giving myself permission to do what I’m feeling in the moment rather than what I think I should be doing. I’m doing the best I can and that may look different every dang moment.

I take more pictures and more videos now.

What I wouldn’t give to have their voices and see their faces again, somehow, somewhere.

I ask more questions.

If there is something you want to know about someone, ask. I wish I could. 

I keep in touch.

I keep in touch with people I care about more often. I  love knowing what’s going on and checking in. Probably to a fault. Haha 

I have learned to ask for and receive help. 

My extreme independence is a trauma response. It’s still hard for me to ask for and especially accept and receive help. But we weren’t meant to do EVERYTHING alone. I  don’t have to “handle” it all. 

Joy and pain can coexist. 

I am so happy to have spent part of my life with my family AND I’m sad they are no longer here. 

I try and choose hope over despair. 

If I ain’t got Hope, then what do I have? 

I try and choose peace over chaos. 

A first peace seemed boring. I think I became addicted to pain, grief and heartbreak. It was comfortable and I knew how to handle it. Joy and peace seemed like a different language. But I realized that I do not need to create chaos to feel alive. And once I tasted leave and joy, all I wanted was more. 

I am not the same person. 

I am not the same person I once was with them here. I had to take some time and discover who I was without them. I learned to grow in ways I never thought I was capable of. 

Laughter heals. 

I never thought I would, but one day, I started to laugh again. And damn it feels good to laugh. Laughter is so healing. 

I have learned to truly appreciate the present moment. 

Sunsets seem prettier now and colors seem brighter. My friend said he loves sunsets because “there is not a single thing I can do to change this outcome. I simply accept what the sky gives me. It is very peaceful and quiet and there is something powerful about taking what I’ve been given.” I appreciate the beauty of the present moment. Of course I still have some days where I try and put Clorox wipes in the fridge because my mind is somewhere else. But I’m much more present than I used to be.

And then one day, I realized that my experience with grief gives others hope as they navigate their own experiences. In some ways I’ve now become a lighthouse for those that cannot find the shore. Reminding them that they too can continue on. And that, for me, is the the purpose in the pain. 

https://psychcentral.com/blog/coping-with-grief-ball-and-box-analogy: Grief: Lessons I’ve learned along the way.

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