When You're Struggling With the Heartache of Grief

Death happens. It is a natural occurrence that we can expect to experience eventually. Sometimes it happens sooner than expected, and other times it feels like a long time coming. No matter how prepared — or unprepared — we feel we are to lose a loved one, the feeling of heartache can be unmanageable. It can be years after the event and the wound can feel as fresh as if it happened yesterday. Unexpected death can create a wound no amount of love feels like it can heal. It’s OK to think we will never be the same without the person we have lost, because we likely won’t be. The world lost a beautiful soul.

Heartache doesn’t feel like a strong enough word to describe the loss. It often feels as if our bodies are splitting into a million pieces, like our minds cannot focus on any task and like our souls can’t go on without the person.

They say “time heals all wounds,” but I disagree. Time teaches us how to live a life without the person we cared so deeply about, but it does not heal the gaping hole that is left. Only love can fill this hole, and we often must learn to find that from other people in our lives. It may feel impossible to turn to others when the feeling of isolation sets in, but I think it’s essential to allow ourselves to be loved by those around us.

We should continue to search for love and joy in the world around us. We should reflect on the traits of the person who passed and while we will grieve this, we also have the opportunity to embrace their passion for living. We have the opportunity to live out years they did not have the chance to. I think it is up to us to continue shining their light, because they cannot do it anymore.

With that, we should acknowledge that it is OK to be upset. There is no timeline for grieving, and this is something that society understands very little about. It’s often expected that after the funeral we will bounce back to our daily lives. We might be told it is time to “move on,” which is one of the most painful things to hear. We may never move on, and if we do, it will be an individual process that each person does in their own manner.

Taking the time to mourn the person we have lost is often essential to recovering. Planning a personal ceremony may be an effective way to do this, where we send flowers down a river or take a day to snowboard on the mountain alone. Maybe it’s important that we spend time with their family or friends who also knew them well. It’s up to us, but creating an intention can be helpful if we choose to go this route.

Today we can choose to move into the light that person left behind and live a life they would be proud of. We can tell the truth, show up for our friends and family authentically and fulfill our obligations. We can be kind to others, smile at strangers and help the homeless. We can embody everything that person we miss dearly did on a daily basis and never took credit for. I think it is up to us to carry on living rather than despairing in what could have been. We may continue to miss them, but please remember: they would want us to live a life worth living.

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