Dates can be a real measuring stick for me, and probably for most people who have grieved significant losses.
Three years ago this month GR died. I feel like I have lived three lifetimes in these past three years. That’s a positive or a negative depending on your perspective.
Since my intention was always and only to share my own experiences in the hopes of connecting more deeply with myself and, secondly, with others, I’ve been reflecting on what I’ve learned in the past three years.
(THREE YEARS! Shit. Time is such a strange concept to me now.)
If I had it all to do over again–meaning the grieving part–I’d do nothing differently except one thing: I’d give myself more of a fucking break. I’d be kinder to myself. I’d have a lot more compassion for myself. I’d not worry so much about the fact that I felt like I knew nothing about anything, because frankly I didn’t. It’s wild how the death of a loved one–in this case my husband–can do a real number on your self-esteem. Like, why? What the hell does the experience of my husband dying of cancer have to do with my self-esteem? As it turns out, a lot.
After losing the person that you’d formed your whole life around, you’re forced to mosey out into the world naked and vulnerable and as alone as you’ve ever been. You have to figure out who you are minus that person you were sharing your entire LIFE with. Which, honestly, is not so terrible once you get into it, but in the early stages it’s a real mindfuck.
I think, in a way, I also had to pick up where I left off before I met GR. Any issues of self-esteem or insecurity that were glossed over by being in a relationship floated right back up to the surface. Being in a relationship teaches you a lot about yourself, but being single also teaches you a whole hell of a lot about yourself. There are less distractions in the latter, I’d say.
I’m quite proud of how I’ve handled myself over the past few years. So much has changed in my life. Friendships have ebbed and flowed, and continue to do so. Some criticized the way I handled my grief, and others seemed to make my hardship or grief about them. It’s been a confusing time in so many ways, but ultimately it forced me to dig deep into my own center and form my own boundaries. It gave me the wherewithal to strengthen my sense of self. Over the past three years, my spiritual path has evolved to levels and depths I couldn’t have predicted. I feel myself moving away from loss being a defining factor of who I am. It’s undoubtedly shaped me, but I’m learning how to not have it define me. I’m tuned in enough to myself now to realize just how much and how hard my poor, tired head and heart have been working–overtime. Real, true healing takes a lot of effort and a lot of work. It’s worthwhile, perhaps the most worthwhile, but still work. I’m ready to worry less about the past and the future and use my energy to focus more on the present. There are fewer imaginary, possibly-never-to-occur problems and issues in the present. These days, that’s where I want and need to be.
I think that the Numero Uno lesson I’ve learned from my three-year stint in Deep Griefville–giving myself a fucking break–is one I hope to apply to all aspects of my life from here on out. It’s one we can probably all benefit from. You’re doing great. You’re doing the best that you can. Let’s all be easier on ourselves because life in general can be fucking hard. And life when you’re grieving a major loss can be really fucking hard.
Right now, in this moment, and hopefully in many more moments to come, I want to be the kindest, most loving, and most compassionate friend to myself that I ever have been before.
I feel like it’s a new day. Time shall tell.
Que será, será.
I have a P.S. to this post. I don’t think I’ve ever said it on here before but I’d like to take this moment to do so: I’m so very grateful for how many people have reached out to me over the past two years–whether in person, via email, Messenger, by phone, wherever–to share kind and heartfelt feedback to me about this blog. It really touches me and means more to me than you may ever know. I put some pretty raw shit out there and to have my friends and family accept it so graciously and lovingly means the world to me. You have given me a soft spot to land. You helped me realize that my voice has value. All of our voices have value. Thank you times infinity. I love you.