Grief isn’t something you move through, it’s something you walk with. You hold grief with your right hand, like a child, and with your left hand you let the light in.
You might be thinking, “How can you do both? That’s impossible.” But that’s exactly what grief is–it’s a balancing act; walking next to it, with it, and at the same time try to move forward the best you can, little by little letting some light shine back in. It’s not about being ok or not being ok, it’s about realizing that as we wade through this thing called grief, we are learning to swim all over again. You start slowly, wading in shallow waters. Then with floaties on, you slowly move to deeper and deeper sections of the water. At times you feel as though you are doing nothing but treading water, going nowhere, but becoming extremely tired at the same time–as if you had swam miles. You look around only to realize you are still in the same spot you were before. Yet, something feels just slightly different. That’s grief.
In episode 4 of my podcast Game On Glio, I talk about author C.S. Lewis. He lost his wife early in life and his grief was unbearable. He described it as having your leg amputated.
Grief is something we adjust too as we continue to try and grow. We don’t feel it tugging at our right hand as hard, like a child desperate to go on all the carnival rides. But you still feel it caressing your hand, tenderly holding on, just not tightly.
Tonight, Orchard Park (home of the Buffalo Bills) held their “Taste of Orchard Park” food festival. I didn’t even realize what day today was until I had finished counseling and was driving home. As I saw the signs and vendor trucks driving past me, it hit me. I decided to go. I took care of the dogs, freshened up and went to the festival by myself. I meandered through the crowds, yes crowds (it was a bit unnerving), ate dinner (because I had no desire to cook tonight), then stood in front of one particular store and stared. People must have thought I was crazy.
Two years ago, Mike and I attended this festival on this exact same night, with the exact same weather; ate food, laughed, enjoyed the evening sunshine, and talked about how excited we were to become parents. Two years ago today was the last time my husband and I did something normal while life was normal. It would be two weeks later that he was diagnosed with brain cancer and everything fell apart. This night, two years ago, I had one of my last date nights with my husband before our life changed forever, and a mere 14 months later (from diagnosis) I would say goodbye.
As I stood in the very same spot of this photo, and stared into the distance, I could feel grief holding firmly to my right hand. Yet, my left hand was reminding me of the shards of light that are slowly poking through.
This is grief. It’s ok for you to have no clue how to navigate it. To feel scared of the road in front of you. To wonder how you take a step forward. To feel like you are treading water and not moving forward (but you are, just in miniscule steps).
Tonight I had a date night for one, I went and got ice cream after the festival (for which I did not stay long), and then headed home, nodding my head in the car to acknowledge just how hard tonight was and how lonely it felt. The sliver of light is–I did it. And, you will too.
**Episode 4 of Game On Glio, with caregiver Katie Schwartzmeyer-Stearns airs tomorrow at 9am EST. It’s a deeply moving, intense, raw, and inspiring episode you won’t want to miss. You can listen to it anywhere podcasts are played, on Podbean (thegameongliopodcast.podbean.com), brainsforthecure.org, or here on my website.
Carry Grace, Guidance, and Gratitude with you each day as you step forward into the unknown.