Life churns forward in a somewhat continued and steady momentum that I find I must consistently adjust my pace to keep up with. There isn’t tolerance in life for the way grief seems to ache for pause.

In the silence of this space, my body feels crushed under the weight. I sit alone with my thoughts often. I’ve made peace with the solitude that surges in the aftermath of death. Maybe not peace. Perhaps it’s surrender. After all, which one of us doesn’t fall prey to the helplessness of mortality?

I can no longer count on one hand those I’ve lost. My mind fights in rivalry, clinging to a clutter of memories in constant battle to remain preserved. The world feels unsafe now. Fear is the unexpected aftershock of loss. Bitterness the more obvious byproduct. I envy those who haven’t touched the face of death. The ones who haven’t stared down the dark and endless abyss that simply swallows the life you once had.

I watch them from a distance, with their carefree lives, markedly untarnished by the hands of fate. They beam and brag and flaunt their jovial, unbothered lives with a laissez-faire disposition. Do they know that death lurks in every corner? Darting and fleeting from the shadows. Dream thief. Future robber. The hands of death are cruel and unjust. No one is safe.

RELATED: When Time Doesn’t Fix your Grief

I understand now that this side of life will never be the same. That joy is transitory. Passing by only to offer a taste of temptation at the fullness that could be, maybe even should be. Most of life will be spent on edge waiting for the inevitable. The unavoidable.

It’s often referred to as “the new normal,” a somewhat veiled way of saying that life will never be the same. And the truth is you can never go back. When you open the floodgates on grief, you enter a reality that is inescapable. The only way out is through. I don’t know if I ever gave myself another option. There was never a moment I considered that perhaps I wouldn’t get out of bed. That maybe I would succumb to the torturous heartache of loss. I suppose I knew nothing more than to just keep going.

Grief shows up in addiction, depression, anxiety, divorce. It batters your body, mind, and heart leaving no refuge from the attack. It mocks and scorns, it threatens and destroys. It is cruel, brazen, and ruthless in its pursuit.

People expect the grief period to end. Maybe there is a magical moment in which we simply overcome, heal, triumph against, or defeat death. But this concept is paradoxical to everything we know about love. And where life ends, love doesn’t. The continuation of love offsets any relief from death. There is a moment when you awake each morning, and for the briefest second, everything feels normal . . . until it clicks. And the unfettered rush of grief knocks you down once again.

RELATED: For As Long As We Love, We Grieve

Survival. Making it through. Morning rises, seasons change. And one year slips into the next. It’s impossible to go back, but you can’t quite move forward. I lost my son, daughter, nephew, and father in a five-year time span. And while it felt like my world had stopped turning, life didn’t end. I wrestle with the endless void their absence left. I search for fragmented pieces of their life with frenzied hope. I question the meaning of existence and I ponder the disenchantment of death. I want to make sense of the senseless.

You reach a point when you must live with it. A parallel coexistence. Joy and sorrow. Beauty and pain. Life and death. You sit suspended in a place where time is immeasurable. An illusion. The experience of grief becomes a perception. A sequential continuum of moments far too complicated and abstract for even the most complex of minds. The conclusion I have reached is that it is just not possible for time to heal the wounds of death. That the heart, as long as it beats, will forever live with the excruciating pain of loss.

In fact, that may be just the antidote to the aftermath of death. It is within the heartbeat of life that the breath of hope is awakened, the memory is preserved. I am learning this new rhythm, to find what connects mortality to existence. To uncover the mysteries that interweave the past and the present. I find contentment in this unknown, this place where I can surrender, unafraid, to the beauty that coexists with pain. Maybe for one tiny moment, there is peace in knowing that love is more. Love is more.

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Shannon Shpak

Shannon Shpak is a writer and social media manager who is rebuilding life after loss with her 5 children. She believes in hope, perseverance and being strong . . . all legacies her son left behind.

Coexisting With Grief Isn’t Sad—It’s Freeing

In: Grief, Loss, Motherhood
Woman walking down railroad

October was child loss awareness month. I realize this each year when I start seeing posts about it on social media. I never pay too much attention to it because I am aware of child loss every month, day, and hour. I think my family and friends are, too. My daughter died over five years ago, and not a day goes by when I don’t think about her absence.   Earlier this month, I was slouched back in an armchair in a little nook in our family room while my boys watched the Paw Patrol movie for maybe the 100th time...

Keep Reading

Grief is Always Heavy—What Changes is How We Carry It

In: Grief, Loss

She looks at me and says, “It looks like you’ve bounced back. You look great.” Instinct nearly has me rolling my eyes, but both my heart and mind know she means well. Instead, I smile and say, “I’m bouncing, but I’m not sure I’m bouncing back. I’m constantly bouncing between hurting and healing, and grief and gratitude. It’s not a one-way bounce. It’s a constant back-and-forth, like a game of Monkey in the Middle.”  She smiles, though I can tell by her look I’ve said too much. I’ve revealed too much raw and honest heartbreak for her comfort level. This...

Keep Reading

Grief Locked My Heart But Love Holds the Key

In: Grief, Motherhood
Two brothers and sister standing near beach, color photo

I didn’t think I could go to Paris with my husband and two children, Lizzie and Zack. We’d dreamed about it for years, but that was when we were a family of five . . . before my oldest son died at 15. But I didn’t want to disappoint the family, so I smiled when Zack took pictures of the Arc de Triomphe or Lizzie gasped with awe when the Eiffel Tower suddenly lit up with lights.  But there was an ache I couldn’t push through until one afternoon when we packed a picnic lunch and walked alongside the Seine....

Keep Reading