themighty logo

Healing My Grief

Healing grief isn’t all rainbows. It isn’t just that we choose the higher feeling thought and forget the pain. It also shouldn’t be swimming too far into the deep of the dark part of our broken hearts. Can we fix grief? No. It’s not something to be fixed. It’s something we can heal parts of and learn to live side-by-side with the rest. Some of the emotions can be healed, like anger and denial, but there will always be a bit of grief in our hearts because that grief is our love for the people we’ve lost.

Healing has to be a balance. Every day? Yeah… no. At certain points in my grief journey I have jumped onto a unicorn and rode off into the sunset. I have thought, “Forget all of this pain. I am going to lock it up in my heart… stuff it down… I am flying this unicorn into the light and I’m going to be joyful and eat pink cupcakes every day and pretend my heart isn’t on fire.” Why? Because some days that is all that kept me alive.

And you know what? That’s OK. Sometimes it helps me to be hopeful, to be grateful, to be joyful. Sometimes I need that unicorn to fly me off in my mind to a new life… one that isn’t on fire.

Does being joyful cover up the pain? No. Does looking for a rainbow make the pain go away? No. But you deserve to try to find your hope. You deserve to laugh out loud. You deserve to feel joy. Some people think spiritual mentors telling you to look for the love and light are only hiding their own pain. That is not me. I am putting my pain out there for all to know about. I am opening up the zipper on my shattered heart and doing my best to show you what’s inside. And I’m also trying to show you that there isn’t only darkness and pain inside of my heart — there is also love, there is also light. I accept both. I embrace both.

It has been 16 months since my husband died. Sixteen months that in some ways feels like 17 years. I miss him every. single. day. I still sometimes want to climb a mountain and scream and curse and yell.

Am I cured of my grief? No. There is a missing spot in my bed where my best friend used to sleep. There is a missing place at the dinner table, in the car, on the couch, and in my heart. Grief lasts forever because it is love. But it changes, it evolves, it softens, and you become a different person than you were before. I no longer recall what it’s like to live a life without a twinge of pain in my heart every day. I’m kind of used to this now.

Am I still in shock? No… and sometimes just a little bit… yes. Sometimes I step back and look at my life and I just cannot believe that this all really happened. That he is really, really gone and is never going to hold my hand or make me laugh again. I almost can’t breathe when I think that we will not grow old together. That he won’t be there when I’m old and grey to sit around a campfire with and recall our adventures.

I have been down in the dark hole of grief. I have sat down in that dark, cold hole in my mind and not wanted to climb out. I have wanted to stay deep in my grief because it’s where I could drown myself in my love for my husband. I felt that climbing out of that hole would be a greater and more exhausting excursion than I possibly had the strength for. How did I get out of that darkness? I got mad, I got angry, and I reached down deep and fought for my life. I had to believe I was still worthy of life, of love, of happiness. And all of those emotions raised me up out of that hole.

Grief for me is falling back and forth, round and round between all of the “stages.” Shock. Anger. Denial. Bargaining. Acceptance. Over and over. Sometimes all at once. What I was never told was that there is life beyond those stages. There is still grief beyond those stages. And those stages are just emotions. I still feel anger sometimes and have come to fully know that I’m going to be honest with myself about it. Feel it, name it, learn from it, heal it. I still have grief but it’s not like those first days, weeks, months.

I’m at the top now. I still have grief but I also can feel joy again. I see rainbows, again. I’m flying on a unicorn and spreading love and light because it feels good. It feels better than sitting in that hole not wanting to ever climb out.

Does being a widow suck sometimes? Yes. Do I have things about my life now that I don’t love? Things about myself that I don’t fully accept? Yes. I’m human. But, I’m working on it. I’m loving myself through it.

That’s part of the healing, part of the letting go for me.

Does pain bring every single person who experiences it a purpose? Of course not. Am I special because I believe my pain gave me a purpose? Heck no. I’m just a regular, broken-hearted girl. But I have found my purpose, and I am going to spend the rest of my days making other people feel less broken. Which in turn, makes me feel less broken.

I want you to know that life is both. It’s joy and pain. Rainbows and thunderstorms. Unicorns and lions. Light and dark. And both have beauty, meaning and purpose.

Your healing journey will not be all darkness. It also won’t be all rainbows, joy and unicorns. It will be both.

Be vulnerable. Be honest. Be raw and real, and this may help you see what you still are grateful for in your life. And those painful days? Love yourself through them until you are back into your light.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Thinkstock image by AGL_Photography