July 4th will forever be a day etched in my memory. Every sound, smell, and sensation are still just as prominent today as they were three months ago. It was one of those moments in your life where your world ceases to exist as you know it. The realization that from now on everything will be different comes into your life.
I was sitting on the steps in my home when the phone rang. My mum was calling and as soon as she started speaking I knew it wasn’t good. Her words, “Your dad had a heart-attack” filtered through the phone. My next thoughts were as follows, “Let’s get focused, is he in the hospital? How can I help?” But before they could come out of my mouth, I was already hearing her say, “He didn’t make it.”
Everything stopped. It felt like all energy got suddenly drained out of my body. And that soul-crushing feeling when your world seems to be spinning in slow motion came.
How was this even possible? They were just on vacation. I was supposed to be going over to catch up on Monday.
The days that followed were a blur. Drifting between numbness and sadness. Floating through the world on autopilot in a constant state of disbelief. My heart utterly shattered in ways I didn’t even know could be possible. Is this even real? How am I supposed to keep moving forward?
The truth is you don’t really. For me, the journey with loss is more about learning how to live as a new person.
To prevent myself from being swallowed up by the darkness that swept in with his death, I have been hanging onto the bigger picture. Trusting that as awful and heart-wrenching this journey has been and will be, something good will come up. For me, finding the meaning and looking for the beauty in this heaviness is the only thing keeping me moving forward.
In a way, the emotion spurred a connection to him that I was desperately clinging too. It was keeping me afloat in the ocean of my loss. My biggest fear is no longer feeling. When I stop feeling this sadness I will lose him for good.
In between the moments of brokenness, there were tiny glimmers of light, pieces of time when I could just be present and in my body. Those weren’t taken for granted. I soaked them up as much as I could, knowing that the next moment I could find myself crying in the kitchen.
Rising from the ashes made me see the world differently. Now, I notice the messages from the universe, tiny pieces of confirmation that my dad is with me. These have often shown up in nature which has been such an integral part of my healing.
They’ve made me appreciate life in a new way. Realizing that a lot of my stress and worry was self-inflicted. I saw how much I let fear hold me back from actually living.
Over the last few months, I’ve learned a lot. Unfortunately, it often takes something as final as death to wake you up. My goal in speaking about loss is hopefully to make it more normal, especially because it feels so far from that. I want to hold space for all those navigating their grief journey. And this is my advice for dealing with grief:
- Rest! Grief is exhausting. There were a lot of physical symptoms. They can manifest in many ways. For me, it was anxiety and the physical ache in my heart. It was as though I could actually feel it breaking.
- Reconnect with your family. You want so badly to prove to others that your loss is the most profound and difficult. To you, it will feel like it because to you the person you lost was the world. So try to share your emotions with those who will understand your loss. It made me need to be near my family.
- Little bits of beauty help make the day less dark. Flowers were my favorite.
- Allow yourself patience as you navigate the emotions.
- Surround yourself with people who can hold space. The world isn’t ready to understand your grief. Sometimes people won’t know what to do with your emotions and that’s okay.
- Eat regardless of bad appetite. Even now my appetite isn’t where I want it to be. Try and add in more whole foods when possible but if you want to eat chocolate – do it.
- Talk about your loved one to those who are ready to hear you out. I love sharing stories about my dad and welcome others to do the same. It’s a good idea to ask first.
- Embrace the good moments.
- Offer yourself grace when you fall apart.
- Allow yourself to feel what you feel without judgment.
- There’s no magic way through the pain, you just have to feel it.
Now, it seems like I am starting to emerge from the heavy fog. The better days are showing up more often. Which in some ways is scary but it doesn’t mean the loss is any less painful. It doesn’t mean that I don’t miss my dad fiercely. That will never change.
Grief has no time limit. It’s not a linear process and you may find yourself bouncing around between all of the emotions. The biggest thing you can do is show yourself compassion and kindness. It’s such a difficult journey.
I hope my words can offer you some comfort but the reality is they likely won’t be able to take away the pain. The one thing you want the most is the one thing that can’t happen. Remember, it’s one shaky breath at a time.
Written by our contributor Victoria Hopkins. Victoria is the Owner of Victoria Hopkins Intuitive Wellness, intuitive empath, and soul coach. She creates a safe community for others to feel uplifted, inspired and empowered. Touched by loss, she found solace in writing. She’s sharing her journey of self-discovery and loss with others in the hopes that they will not feel so alone. You can follow Victoria on Facebook and Instagram. Become our contributor too! Apply here.
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