Grief does not come with a handbook. No play by play through your path of healing exists. In the beginning stages of healing, loneliness enters every corner of life. You feel alone in the way you deal with your emotions; you feel alone in a world without your loved one and you feel alone inside your own head.
Four months ago, I lost someone dear to my heart.
I lost the kind of person who knew everything about me, who understood my thoughts without me ever saying a word. This loss felt as though a part of me ripped itself from my hands and went away forever, like a balloon rising into the abyss above. No matter how hard I reached or how high I jumped, she was gone. When someone that real and that important to my life suddenly left it, it sent me into a state of frantic tranquility. I just watched as life passed by, present and absent at the same time. My mind remained up in the clouds, trying to make sense of the new reality that surrounded me: one with her not in it.
After the shock wore off, life hit me like a truck.
As the initial days of sadness came to an end and the surplus of hugs and flowers slowly dwindled, I entered a new world where keeping her memory alive relied on her loved ones. Terrified of the ambiguous path of grief in front of me, days felt like ten years of battle to get through. Controlling and understanding my emotions pulled every ounce of energy out of me. I constantly held my breath in fear of letting them out. I wanted to scream yet no strength remained in me to do so. I felt as though I was slipping, digging into the ground beneath me and trying to hold onto my past self for dear life.
Yes, this abyss of sadness pulls you in, but through my process I learned that you need to know what darkness looks like to appreciate the light.
One day someone asked me the most clarifying question in my grief process: “Who said there is a certain way to grieve?” Once I heard that question and actually thought about it, my healing process truly began. I realized that I felt an obligation to control my emotions, an obligation to walk through campus with a smile on my face. I felt obligated to fit the mold of what “sadness” looks like. But who made the definition of grief? Who said a certain way to act sad existed?
Although I felt like I was slipping away, who said letting myself slip was the wrong thing to do? So, I did it. I let myself fully feel my emotions, instead of fighting the fear of what that meant. I truly saw the darkness. I felt the pain and loneliness that came with it and I faced those emotions head on. Like a balloon, I rose towards the light, appreciative of the strength I showed and lessons I learned in the darkness below.
Remembering that healing is a process staples the grief journey. A process of realizing that your loved one does not solely exist in the past because they will live on through you in the future. A process of truly feeling grateful for each person that comes into your life, and a process of answering the wakeup call that life is too short to stay concerned with anything other than true happiness. While I’m not the girl I was four months ago, I’m thankful for her because without her, I wouldn’t know Kylie Murray….the biggest tragedy of all.