When we experience loss, be it through death, breakup, career, what we gain is ourselves.
And I don’t mean that in a woo-woo kind of way, I mean it quite literally. When what we’ve attached our identity to disappears, from the present or from an expected future, we get the opportunity to meet who we really are.
This person can shock us, but stay curious; there is wisdom within you that you do not yet know how to hear but that is speaking to you always.
Who you are is still in there to be met and witnessed and welcomed to shine. It’s true that loss catalyzes seasons of change that we may not feel ready for, but it is also true that true readiness is a myth, a life raft that we will always be searching for and never find.
Trust that you are always as ready as you could ever be. Surrender, and you will feel the life raft that you’re searching for has already risen up inside of you.
This is a letter that I wrote to someone who had recently lost a parent to suicide. As someone who has also lost a loved one in this way and who has oftentimes been held together by the words of others who have lost and learned, I wanted to pass the words of my own heart along here, to you.
But loss and grief do not save themselves to be felt over death alone. Loss of a relationship, friendship, job—they often all trigger similar feelings and those are the ones that go with a loss of identity and a huge shift in reality.
May these words help you to feel less alone, and like there is just a little bit more solid ground beneath your feet:
I want you to know that you will be okay.
You are right that everything feels torn apart, the universe has shifted, everything is different, you will have days where you feel broken and don’t want to get out of the dark.
And that is okay.
The way that you are grieving is perfect.
Because it is real.
The way you are grieving is a testament and a remembrance of the beauty they brought to this world—that they are still bringing to this world—don’t forget that.
You don’t need the five steps of grief to tell you what to feel and how to heal. Start where you are, step in literally any direction, and yes, naming the feeling counts as a step.
These people we move through life with never truly leave us in death. Their light and ability to connect people still shine bright and are with you, always. Keep talking about them, keep sending them love, and keep putting your love and light out into the world.
This is one of the ways we can honor those we have lost—by taking hold of our own happiness and finding moments of joy wherever and whenever we can.
Do not wait in your pain for someone else to tell you it is safe to leap back into your life, because no one can give you this safety but you. Instead, practice the dance of listening and then doing, listening and then doing.
Notice how you feel with each step with curiosity, not judgment. Judgment will come from inside and from out and when it does, let it, but then come back to being curious. This is the dance of meeting and trusting this new layer of yourself that has been exposed through the loss of who you were before all this.
Go easy on yourself, okay? Don’t believe anyone (even yourself) if they tell you that you “should” be feeling better after a certain amount of time. We all grieve in our own ways and in our own time—trying to make the grieving disappear is a battle you will not win.
What we can learn to do instead is make a place for our grief and our love to coexist. The fact is that you are grieving, you may be for a long time, and your grief will take many shapes and faces. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t also begin to move through life again. You are changed and your life is changed, but you are still you and you still have a life to live.
There is still beauty in this world and you will feel joy again, I promise.
You have been knocked off balance, like, way off course, but you have the ability to find your stride again—allow yourself time to adjust. This will not be the last time life zigs when you were ready for a zag and I don’t say that to scare you, but only to help you remember that there is so much more unfolding in this grand universe than we could ever hope to see or understand. Take your time in everything you do.
When you have a hard day, let yourself have a hard day, do what you can, and don’t worry about what you don’t have the energy for. Your loved one is in your heart and one day, you might find little glimpses of them in other people whom you meet, situations you encounter, songs that you hear, and places that you go. Bring them with you wherever you go. Allow these reminders of them to remind you that you are loved and that you are never alone.
If you can, take some time for yourself this week for an activity that really brings you joy. No guilting yourself, no “should-ing” on yourself, no plans to fix all your challenges all in one day—just joy.
Carrying grief and pain takes a lot out of us, it’s okay to gently put them down and give your heart a break.
I want you to know that you are not alone in how you are feeling. I want you to know that living with these challenges does not make you less than. I want you to know that being on the right track does not require you to have all the answers, and it’s a myth that one day we will and then we can finally start living.
What you are doing—living with your heart wide open, feeling all of these waves, bravely sitting with all of your challenges and never abandoning your relationship with yourself—this is the stuff of healing.
This is what will help you come to a place of peace and joy. Know that you already have this place inside of you and trust that you can lose it and re-find it a million times over in this life.