Life moves on. As well it should.
But for your friend dealing with the grief of a miscarriage, or failed marriage, or loss of a family member, life doesn’t go on as well it should.
For us, the grief is the loss of our home in a California wildfire. The loss of our children’s special toys, our family memories, and special mementos. The loss of everything we owned and the home we planned to make so many memories in. Once the fire was out and the smoke began to clear, life for everyone else moved forward. School started. We had a holiday weekend. Life moved on.
But for those who are living in the cycle of grief, life doesn’t move on quite as easily. We are trying to rebuild our homes, our lives, and our emotions. We are fiercely struggling some days, and just making it through other days. We have good days, we have OK days, and we have painful, dreadful days. We can cycle between sad, angry, depressed, and numb. We watch as life goes on for others, while life can seem so empty and so hard for us.
The grief process can be long and it can be painful. We have constant memories of the precious baby we lost, the parent we dearly miss, or the home we desperately want to return to. We can be jealous that others are moving forward with life while we feel so stuck. We can feel left out or forgotten as the world keeps going forward while our world stands still.
Our grief processes are all unique. Although we all cycle through the same stages of denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, the process for each person is different. We feel some stages with more severity and others for longer. But one thing that is true for so many of us, is that we just need time to process our pain and deal with our loss. We need to cry the painful, breathtaking tears that shake us to our core. We need to scream the angry “why me?” screams. We need to allow ourselves to feel sadness over our loss and what never will be. The child we will never meet on this side of Heaven. The parent who now watches us from above. The marriage that won’t have another anniversary. The home we will never get to experience a family Christmas dinner in.
Although there isn’t light at the end of every tunnel, there is light at the end of many grief processes. Our home will be rebuilt. We will meet our family in heaven again. We will find new relationships and may even have more children. Life will go on. As well it should. But life will never be the same. Life will always have a scar. I will never again have the baby clothes and handprint Christmas ornaments our kids made. Our daughter will never get to play dress up in my wedding dress again or wear my veil in her wedding. I won’t be able to pass down the family heirlooms from my grandma. Our sons will never get to wear my husband’s hockey jersey.
Scars often fade with time and can even become barely visible. It is my choice whether I mourn these scars forever or find beauty in them. My choice is to process through my grief and find a way to make this life amazing in spite of my scars. My choice is to believe that scars create character and resilience. My choice is to feel the emotions that come instead of numbing them away. My choice is to use my scar to be the light to someone else who is suffering through grief. My choice is to find and hold onto hope, wherever it may be. No matter how much my scars fade, they will continue to cause varying degrees of pain throughout my life. But it is my choice to not allow that pain to overrule my life.
Because life will move on. As well it should.
For anyone who knows someone cycling through grief, please remember to check in. Your world may have moved on, and we are happy that it has, but ours hasn’t yet. We may hold our grief longer than others may, but we will return to a new normal with time and healing. We are all in this life together and we always need to support one another.