It’s a fascinating thing, isn’t it, what we find comfort in when someone we love has passed? It may be songs that remind you of their joy; it may be a special place that you share treasured memories from; it could be an old t-shirt, one that has comfort in holding that you never saw possible until now. That one t-shirt, feeling the fabric, the scent of their wash powder or aftershave, providing you with the closest feeling to a hug you can get. I have one of my dad’s t-shirts wrapped around my pillow and that one t-shirt is a huge comfort to me.
I often find most of my tears come in the evenings, in the night, when everything is calm, when my children are sleeping, when the stars are shining. That’s when I feel most of my grief. In that stillness of night, where I feel safest to cry, safest to grieve. And I will lay with that pillow, with the feel of the shirt on my face and allow what comes to come, whether it’s tears, whether it’s the heartache, or even the joy from a beautiful memory. Whatever comes is fine. I am safe. I’m allowed to grieve. I am allowed to feel.
We often think that grief should have a time limit. We can be lead into a false sense of security that after time has passed, after a year, two years, three years have passed, that we shouldn’t grieve anymore. But I don’t believe this to be true in any form. What we shared with those we love is an incredible connection, it’s the deepest love imaginable; one so precious that in its absence the void can be unbearable. We feel that longing to see them, to hold them, to see their smile and I don’t think that should ever have to stop. Yes, we need to carry on and move forward, as we deserve and as they’d want, but at no point should you think that your time to grieve is up. I know that I’ll grieve for my dad for the rest of my life and I’m ok with that. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Those who feel it should stop maybe haven’t experienced your deep pain yet. Maybe they are not on that journey in their own life and that’s ok. Let them be them and you be you. How you choose to be within your grief, how you choose to cry, laugh, remember any moment with that person is yours. You know yourself. Trust yourself within your own journey and let it just flow.
Do you hear them speak to you? Do they visit when you dream? I’m a true believer in a spirit having the ability to continue to walk with us, not in its psychical form, not in the case in which carried it, but amongst us, silently, gracefully, after their passing. I often have conversations with my dad. I have since the day he passed away. I know he’s never far, the moment I need him, the moment I begin to feel a struggle, he comes instantly, he’s with me by my side, supporting me, comforting me, all the way. When he was on end of life care, he asked my brothers, my sister and I if we had any last requests. “What can I do for you all before I leave. What do you need?” That was my dad all over. He always wanted to do all he could for all he loved. It gave him purpose and joy to be able to do so for people. His generosity and kind heart was a huge part of him and how he lived his life and even in his last days he still wanted to know what we all needed before he left. He was still putting us first; thinking of our needs, never his own. When he asked me, I remember feeling panicked, like is there something I need? What if I’ve forgotten, then you’re not here? But all that came to me was “There’s nothing I need but what I want, is for you to promise us that if there’s any way of letting us know you’re ok, once you’ve passed, then please find it. Send a bird, a song, send a sign, send a feather.” And my dad held my hand and said “My darling, I will send you all feathers, I promise.” And he kept that promise. Every day, feathers appear in our clothes, our hair, fall onto my children from nowhere. Although some may say that’s a coincidence, which is fine, we don’t all have to believe or feel the same way. However, I have great comfort in feeling it’s my dad keeping his promise and letting us know he’s still with us, every day, every step, every moment.
Life is magical, life is blissful, and then sometimes, it isn’t. I battle a lot lately with the expectation to be happy, to feel joyful. Some days I truly feel these emotions. However, on others, I just don’t. I can spend the day stuck in the trauma, stuck in that unfairness, stuck in that heavy lull. It feels unescapable. But I want you to know that’s ok. It’s ok to have the light and the dark. It’s ok to feel happy and sad. You’re a human being full of a maze of complex deep emotions and it’s ok to feel them all. It’s ok to wake up and struggle in the sadness for the day and it’s also ok to wake and decide to enjoy your day, to laugh to smile. We are not robots, we are not programmed to deal with grief. I once read an article after my dad died, saying that if a human being fully felt the full force of grief, within the seconds of their loved one dying, then they would in fact die themselves. The pain would be too much for the body to handle, to process. And this is why our journeys will be muddled. They will be light and dark. They will be complex and, in my eyes, this journey will last forever. There’s no textbook; we only have one another, the gift of connection, and our hearts. I think those are all powerful gifts to help us through. Nothing will bring them back. Nothing will return to the way it was but we can ride the waves together, supporting, loving, connecting, until we meet them again. Be gentle with yourselves today. We’ve got this x
A whisper carries through the trees, a soft-spoken word you can receive.
Stargazing in the moonlit sky, a brightness within, a light that never dies.
In every day we’ll remain to be, connected as one I want you to see,
Just relax, no need to try, calm your mind and open your eyes,
Trust your heart and sit with me, we may feel apart but we will always be.