It is hard work, but it’s so important to find duality in our widowed lives.
Sadness and Happiness.
Grief and Joy.
Heartache and Love.
Sorrow and Wonder.
I remember getting a piece of advice right after Tony died that came via another widow. That advice was to cry when you need to but don’t let it consume you. If you need to, give yourself a timeline to get it out. Go ahead and sob for maybe 15 minutes but at the end of the release, pick yourself back up. Dry your eyes and keep taking the small steps forward.
Reversely, I never felt it was taboo for me to find joy in the small moments either. Maybe that’s part of parenting through grief. How could I not smile and laugh with children? I know in my heart that he would want me, want all of us, to have fun. At 42, I could not imagine living the rest of my days without delight.
So, I do it the only way I knew how. When I’m gloomy, I hold that close and let myself feel the effects of those emotion. Conversely, when I’m delighted, I accept that feeling and it let it shine. In the beginning, I had friends tell me how proud of me they were and how they didn’t know how I was seemingly doing it all. But to me, I was just doing the only thing I knew how. I was tackling one hard thing at a time and feeling whatever I felt along with it.
This is probably why I keep going back to Camp Widow. It was the first place I found people who are like me. Friends who understood better than most of the non-widowed community that there is duality in life.
At my second camp, I met someone who arrived when they needed it most. They had been in a dark place living with their grief. I had no idea at the time, but as we’ve kept in touch since that camp, they have shared more of themselves with me. As they were filling me in on the impact of our friendship and camp experience, they shared this compliment that I will cherish forever: “with the weight of grief I couldn’t understand when I met you how you had such a beautiful aura…love resonates from you. And fun… I felt better being near you. Not sure how you could put something like that into words…but I felt hope just knowing you.” It’s a compliment I don’t take lightly. After losing someone to suicide, I see the importance of making space for the light.
The days are filled with duality. If no one has given you permission yet to feel both sides of the yin and yang of life, consider permission granted.