Grief, Loss & Love

The last few weeks I’ve had a lot on my mind. I moved through Thanksgiving with ease for the first half of the day, the latter part of the day….I was a hot mess of sorrow, loss, pain, and so many tears. I miss my dad. I honestly can’t remember the last Thanksgiving I spent with him, even last year, he didn’t want to be with people….he couldn’t eat…he couldn’t celebrate the day with us in the only way he knew how. Oh dad…I’m so glad that despite my deep loss of you, that you are healed and whole and free of the cancer that tore through your body, robbing you of so many things.

Holidays are hard. Anniversaries are hard. This year marks all the first….first father’s day without my dad, my first birthday without my dad, celebrating his birthday without him here, first holiday season without him here with us. And soon approaching, the one year mark. I find myself often thinking how in the world have I lived nearly an entire year without my dad here with me!? How is that possible?

With the holidays upon us, I’m reminded how hard this time of the year can be for those of us who’ve experienced loss. Moving through my own grief over the last year, I’ve learned how truly grief is an ebb and a flow. It’s unpredictable. It’s ferocious. It’s raw. It’s impatient. It’s uncontrollable. It’s inconsolable. It comes out of no where. It sometimes makes no sense. It’s wild. It’s crazy. It’s painful. It’s purifying. It’s healing. It’s HEALTHY.

We tend to move through everything at lightening speed in our culture, never stopping to fully feel anything. That makes grief really uncomfortable for most people to deal with. But the truth is there is no way through grief without feeling…deeply…intensely…overwhelmingly. There’s no way to get around the fact that your life is forever changed. I’m not the person I was before my dad died. I’m changed. I’m softer. I’m more compassionate. I’m more understanding. I’m more raw. I’m more passionate. I’ve learned how to sit with my feelings and be okay with not being okay.

Sometimes there are just no words…no words to bring comfort. No way to truly understand. No response that’s comfortable for us. It’s in those moments that maybe it’s okay to just be. To step into the mess with those we love. To hold the space of this isn’t okay…it might never be okay….but I promise I’ll still love you in the midst of it. Can we look at unspeakable, unbearable pain with compassion? Can we sit in that unspeakable, unbearable pain with another without feeling the innate desire to “fix”? Can we hold that pain with the tenderest of hearts, realizing that to sit with someone in their deep grief is sacred. It’s a sacred process that we get to share with one another in this life…to love each other….to hold each other…to cry with each other…to be human together. I challenge you this holiday season to reach out to someone who is struggling with loss…no matter how fresh…or how old. Simply be a presence for them to show love and compassion, to help them to feel seen and not quite so alone in the solitude of grief.