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“And ever has it been that love knows not its own depth until the hour of separation” ~ Khalil Gibran
Most of 2019 felt like I was in the backseat of a speeding car that had gotten out of control.
I caught only glimpses of the outside world passing by. I felt carsick.
My driver’s name was grief.
My dad and grandpa had both died unexpectedly within four months. Looking back now, it feels surreal that this was my life.
I still remember it vividly, yet I am in a completely different space.
I am thriving. I am more joyous and spiritually connected than ever before. I’m enjoying the life I had been longing for—living abroad, surrounded by beautiful nature, and like-minded people.
Grief and I have found a way of coexistence.
These are the three things that helped put me back in the driver’s seat:
1. Asking for and receiving support from others.
Grief is dense energy that gets lighter through love and light. When grief is so heavy, it is like a big dark storm cloud surrounds us, it is not easy to find that light within—so it has to come from outside.
I learned that it is okay to ask for help and to receive it.
We are here to support each other after all. I was blessed to have had the support of loving friends. I also reached out to several professionals and created a support team for myself, to whom I could turn to any moment. This included grief counselors, a crisis therapist, my homeopath doctor, and a grief support group for young adults.
This had been a really challenging step. It took me almost a year to get there.
I strongly resisted acknowledging my new reality. For many months I did not even say the word “dead.” I felt like I was confirming and agreeing to my dad and grandpa’s deaths.
I realized that acceptance does not mean we have to like what happened, but that we let go of resisting it.
My spiritual practices and the Buddhist teachings on impermanence really supported me in getting to that space.
The final shift occurred on a beach in Colombia. It was fittingly called Playa de los Muertos (Beach of the Dead) and the site of an ancient cemetery. Suddenly, I felt a deep acceptance of all that had happened during the year. So much pain and sadness came up from deep within and released through countless tears. I left the beach feeling a new spaciousness and lightness within me.
3. A change in perspective.
Shortly after this experience, my dad’s first deathversary arrived and so had the pivotal moment that put grief in the backseat—and myself back at the steering wheel of life.
Prior to that day, I had perceived my dad’s absence in every corner of my parent’s house. It had been challenging to be there. I used to walk through all the rooms as if looking for him. My heart grew heavier with every door I closed to yet another empty room.
Suddenly, throughout the day, I saw his presence everywhere. He had renovated and rebuilt the whole house, so his love and fingerprints are literally all over the place—the bathroom tiles, the wallpaper in the living room, and the garden arrangements. His essence is actually in every nook and corner of that house.
This realization brought me such great comfort and truly started a deeper healing process. Now, I actually believe he is wherever I am, whenever I want him to be close.
Grief feels gentler now.
It has not completely disappeared but has faded into the background. Sometimes I still fear being overwhelmed by it on days such as anniversaries or weddings.
I am still reluctant to let their belongings go. I have tears rolling down my cheeks when I have moments of missing the physical touch and the sounds of my dad and grandpa’s voices. Yet, the moments in between the times of sadness have become much longer.
The laughter is more frequent than the tears—more living than grieving and no more numbing the pain.
My heart has healed its wounds and my life is joyful once again.
The past two years provided me an opportunity for immense spiritual growth. I now feel more in tune and aligned with my soul than ever before.
I cannot change what happened, but I can appreciate the blessings it brought amongst the pain and enjoy this now moment of my journey.