Grief hits you in waves. Sometimes you can forecast their arrival around significant dates or known triggers. Sometimes they sneak up on you for no apparent reason at all. Some cause ripples at your feet but the worst waves crash down hard, knocking the wind out of you, pulling you under the sea of grief. It feels like you’re sinking to the darkness below, weighed down with the heaviness of your heart.
Eventually the weight begins to lift. It could be within hours, overnight, in a few days, a week or sometimes much longer. It may lift on its own, with help from others who throw you a life vest in the form of a listening compassionate ear, or from your own self care efforts.
Over time the waves begin to come further apart, often don’t last as long and don’t leave as much wreckage. I thought I had learnt how to ride them, I thought I had learnt how to predict when they would come and could prepare myself for them.
Recently a huge wave swept over me. I realised that no matter how strong, prepared or experienced you are, you can still get knocked down. Every time I felt like I was coming up for air another wave crashed down hard swallowing me. Every morning I expected to wake up feeling the relief of a lighter heart but that sinking heaviness was still there. My lungs felt like they had filled with the water of all my tears that i had shed along with all those that I wanted to but couldn’t. There was no riding that wave. All I could do was make sure I didn’t drown.
It’s hard to believe in the thick of it that the ferocity of the storm will ever calm. It’s hard to believe you’ll get through it. It’s even hard to remember what it’s like to not feel so damn awful. I had to keep reminding myself that I KNOW the waters will settle and leave gentle days and nights, I just don’t know when. I KNOW that I’ll get through it, just as I always have. I have to remind myself it’s not always like this because it’s easy to forget about all the great days you have in between when the bad ones are so overwhelming.
I went back to the basics i learnt at the start-
To take one day, one moment, one breath at a time.
To allow myself to cry and feel everything I really feel.
To say to a safe and understanding person all the things out loud that I’m holding inside and want to scream out to the universe.
To give my grief it’s space and acknowledgment because it has a right to exist in my heart just as love does.
I did so as I lowered my expectations from “thriving” which I try my hardest to do, to simply surviving. This isn’t an easy thing for me to do but it can be the kindest (and only) thing I can do while I wait out the storm.
So I wait and i hope.
While I hurt, grieve and love.
It won’t be the last wave to hit but I will survive the next one just as I have every other.