My memories of Mike echo off the walls of the house, yet the silence in my home is deafening. Everything is quiet now. Death makes your whole world go silent. I think this is by design. We need this noiseless environment and solitude to contemplate how we will re-create ourselves. As we do the work of re-defining our identity we need to concentrate intensely. Death can create isolation, but maybe this detachment is necessary as we prepare to reinvent ourselves. Maybe we are required to withdraw so that we can be born anew.
Daily, I am surrounded by the hum of life, but since Mike died I don’t hear the sounds of joy anymore. My heart doesn’t feel the beauty of an ordinary moment like it used to when he was alive. My eyes don’t clearly see opportunities before me. I feel it, I am allowing my life to pass me by because I have momentarily lost my enthusiasm. No one can change this but me. I know this, but finding the motivation to re-engage in life without him eludes me.
I need to be encouraged to embrace life, take risks and find out what I am made of; but, my biggest champion is dead. Now, I have to motive and inspire myself. I am not used to being my own encourager. Since I was 17 years old I have always been part of a couple; and, I was never solely in charge of coaching myself. I always had a companion to hold a mirror up to me. To reflect with. I had a voice, other than my own, telling me to “take it day by day, everything will work out”. For me, being alone feels scary and I desperately want to be rescued.
I feel inadequate when I admit to myself that I’m scared to “do life on my own”. I continuously remind myself that I am a divorced woman; and, once upon a time I left something familiar and chose to move towards the unknown. I’ve dealt with uncertainty before. I tell myself that “I’ve got this” because I’m no stranger to adversity. I tell myself that I’m strong… and I’m capable. But, Mike’s death is different. His death knocked me to the ground and all my dormant insecurities have re-emerged.
In the early days after Mike died, I thought that I should be able to navigate my way through his death. I felt like there was something wrong with the way I was grieving because I was so completely immobilized with sadness. Thankfully, over this last year, I have come to realize that there is nothing to actually get “through” here. Grief isn’t a disease that you need to be healed from. There is no end game because grief isn’t something you complete. Grief is something that becomes a part of who you are. When your person dies you continuously absorb their absence into your Soul.
I will confess that absorbing the death of your person is ridiculously hard. I still have not accepted his death and I don’t know if I ever will. I mean, logically, I know Mike is dead. I’ve stood at his grave. And, countless times, I’ve traced my fingers along the letters of his name that are etched on his headstone. I’ve taken wine to the grave on many a Saturday night because, well, I wanted to be with my best friend. I’ve written heartfelt messages on red heart shaped balloons and I’ve tied them to a shepherds hook I put behind his headstone because, well, I miss him.
I know Mike is dead.
His headstone tells me he died November 15, 2016.
But, in my mind he’s still very much alive.
And, in my heart, I’m still very much in love with him.
I know you “get it”. And, I also know that you hate that your person died too. It is the permanence of the situation that sucks. But, it is what it is. We can’t back up. So, we resign ourselves to breathe and somehow continue living. On the days when I have the patience to do “nothing”, I sit with my grief. I invite Grief in and I just wait until Grief speaks. Let me tell you what Grief has said (it’ pretty awesome) …
Grief says that if you let it, death can be one of life’s greatest teachers. If you will indulge the quiet, and be a gracious host, Grief will lead you towards life and living. If you can resign yourself to be still, you will find a lot of answers in this space of nothingness where Grief resides.
I hope by reading these words you are inspired to be brave enough to lean into your pain and really feel it. I promise that you will learn a lot about yourself. Death creates an empty spot within us; and I have become increasingly drawn towards the ledge of this place because I believe this is were some of the answers are. I think it is here that I will discover how to live again. Come with me. Let’s go here. I know we will be better for it.
Us at the Grand Canyon July 4, 2016. Mike was dead 4 months & 11 days later…
His death was sudden, it came out of nowhere.
I feel like he was just “erased” from my life.
I admitted earlier that I am scared, and I am. I’m no different than you; uncertainty intimidates me. But, I remind myself again and again that there is opportunity and possibility in the unknown.
I am going to move towards my uncertain future. I will not stay comfortable. I am going to venture from the ledge; and, I am going to take a leap of faith. And, I will build my wings on the way down. Because, deep down, all along, I have known that I do not actually want to be saved from Mike’s death by anyone, but myself. I know that it is necessary for me to do this on my own. This is my journey. I am glad you are here with me as I gather my confidence and move towards the light. The light within me, and the light outside of me.
Moving, that’s where my focus is because I know full well that finding myself will not happen if I just stay comfortable in my grief. Change occurs when you are crawling on your knees. When you are off balance and uncomfortable. Mike’s death is my catalyst for change.
I don’t have all the answers, but I know I’m on to something. 13 months, 3 weeks and 3 days since he died I have come to some big realizations from visiting the place of “nothingness” created by Grief:
I have become aware that what I fear is not the risks, uncertainty, and change itself.
What I am afraid of is letting
the opportunity for change pass me by.
I’m afraid of settling into an ordinary life when I want an extraordinary life.
It is my potential, my light, my ability to shine, this is what scares me.
I am afraid that I will play small, when my capabilities and potential is big.
So, in the quiet, when my mind is still, I remind myself that I have control.
I have the power to re-create my life,
to build my life into anything I want if I get off kilter and test myself.
I am challenging myself not to shrink.
I do not want to fall back into an easy comfortableness
when I should be manifesting a bold life.
I want you to manifest the best in yourself too.
Go, create a beautiful changed life for yourself.
Do NOT let life pass you by.
Trust, me, together, we’ve got this.
Let’s promise not to shrink.
Let’s not play small when our capability and potential is big.
Let’s go to the ledge together,