When my husband died, I was told that I would never stop grieving, that grief lasts forever.
Not only was I told this by every single person I ever met, but I was also taught this during my grief work in college.
People felt so sorry for me.
As if I was locked up in a prison with no key.
My sentence was never ending, and there could never be another trial.
It was settled.
It was believed that I would never stop grieving.
One day while in this prison I started to feel a little different.
Not better but different.
New thoughts emerged in my mind.
They told me to look outside of the window and search for anything that could make me feel better.
When I located the window, I saw something that I did not expect to see.
To my surprise it was day time outside, and I really thought it would be as dark outside as it was inside that cell.
But the light was coming through.
The most strange thing happened in that moment.
I became afraid of the light.
I hadn’t seen it in so long that it made my eyes ache.
So I had to spend time every day getting used to looking outside of the window and into the light. The longer I looked the more I wanted to go out there. The more my grieving eyes got used to looking at life again.
I would climb slowly up to that window and with my fingernails I made a big hole in the wall and climbed out.
At first I would take a few steps out, and then climb back through the hole and inside the cell.
You see I felt safe in there.
I was not ready to leave my grief.
I remember how life slowly started to overshadow grief the more time I spent outside of the cell.
It was just like when a rainbow comes out after the storm when the clouds are still dark.
When the sky is still stormy, the rainbow shows up and it is the most beautiful it can be.
Life started to show up on top of my grief.
It wasn’t the way I thought it would be.
Sometimes I felt both at the same time.
I didn’t know that you can grieve and live at the same time.
I wish someone had explained to me that grief does not mean remembering, it means pain.
It does not mean that it is the only way to express sadness about the loss, it is the introductory way to our loss.
I had to come up with my very own definition of grief.
Grief is: Deep sorrow that is disabling life activities.
When life is not being disabled, and we have moments of laughter, joy and happiness, we are not grieving in that moment in time.
These moments expand as we merge with life more and more, and one day they go over our whole day, our whole life.
The question to ask yourself today is:
What do you need to do…so grief can slowly transition out of your day to day experience?
It could be as simple as going for a walk for a few moments a day.
PS. Make sure you have a copy of SECOND FIRSTS.