For as long as I can remember, I have been terrified of suffering.
I suffered through childhood abuse. I suffered through my parents’ divorce. I suffered through years of a lukewarm marriage—and then, finally, my own divorce. Although I’ve weathered the storms of grief, I found myself in a place where I consistently avoided anything that would potentially bring me pain.
But then it happened: the breakup I didn’t quite see coming, even though the writing was on the wall.
I thought I had found “the one” and had carefully crafted what I thought was a strong relationship. I was faced with a choice: stay in the wrong relationship, or choose to let the relationship go.
I had to choose the very thing that I had tried to avoid—I had to choose suffering.
And I did suffer.
The chest pain of a broken heart so strong that I wondered if I would survive.
And I grieved.
Body-wracking sobs that would bubble up from the depths of my very core.
And I questioned.
I questioned why I would feel like this when I’m the one who walked away. I questioned why the relationship had to end. I questioned everything about the life situation I found myself in. I even had the ridiculous question of how long would the grief last. And with each question, I fought the grief.
Until one day, I didn’t question anymore.
I was sitting outside, wrapped in a blanket that was shielding me from the fall storm which was threatening to release its rage. I watched as the clouds rolled in, dark and ominous. The power stored in those clouds was tremendous, with enough power to transform our world with its rain and darkened skies.
My grief was much like those clouds. There was no use trying to simply will the clouds to stop and the sun to return. It would have been futile for me to escape the rain that was coming.
I realized I was fighting my grief with as much success as I would have in fighting those clouds.
I was avoiding my grief, rather than accepting it for what it was—a release of someone I loved, a release of the dreams I had for us and our families, and a release of the woman I thought I would be.
No more questioning. No more fighting. Just acceptance.
We all have times in our lives that cause us grief—life-changing health issues, the death of a child, a son being deployed for three years in a foreign land, the loss of a relationship, the failure of a dream, a friend’s cancer diagnosis…the list goes on and on.
We all have those moments of asking, “How long will this suffering go on?”
I learned that day that we can suffer through our grief by trying to fight it, or we can endure the storm of grief by letting the clouds roll in when they will.
Sometimes the clouds open wide and the rain pours, and sometimes the clouds part briefly to allow the sun to shine through—but the storm will always roll through.
I endured the storm on that fall day, but the storms—like my grief—have lessened, the way grief is bound to do when you allow it to roll through your heart. The promise of a new season is always around the corner; there’s no fighting it.
You don’t have to suffer through grief, but you do have to accept it—and endure it—and only then will you truly be able to move on.
As the brilliant Paulo Coehlo wrote: “Tell your heart that the fear of the suffering is worse that the suffering itself.”
Author: Amy Weitzel
Editor: Yoli Ramazzina