I feel like I want to share a bit of my story and it might be of help for one or the other, who suffers the loss of a loved one and doesn't know, how to go through the day and how to continue to live and find beauty and joy in life ever again.
Today is a good day.
It is the first time in over a year I say this out loud. And I hope and wish there are more of those to come. I live, I breathe.
My partner, who was meant to be there till we are old and grey, has passed away 5 1/2 months ago. He was only 47 years old. He was my love, my best friend, my dearest and closest person. We shared everything together, the most beautiful parts of life, the darkest moments, love, intimacy, anger, frustration, fear. We shared it all. And we grew together, as our love was growing. He died some days before we would have gotten married. I was with him till the end, holding his hand and heart, caressing his hair, saying all the things that needed to be said, so he knew, he has it all and is not alone. I am sure he heard me and knew I was there, although he was already in a coma. When he took his last breath and his heart stopped, my life with him came to an end.
The world as I wanted it to be and live with him was already completely changed the day we received the diagnosis of cancer, around half a year earlier. Nothing was the same from one second to the other. Everything that came after was covered by the worst fears, suffering, helplessness, desparation, hopelessness and hope at the same time.
Suddenly he was gone. Nothing would ever bring him back.
I didn't know, how to survive even the next minute. This pain was so overwhelming, so all consuming, all the rest, was just all the rest, empty and meaningless. The world lost its colors, its pleasures, its sense.
I was not able to eat, nor to sleep. I was either hysterical or paralyzed. I'll be honest, I didn't want to go on.
Friends and family are helpless in times like these. There is nothing anybody could possibly say or do to make that easier. You enter the loneliest time of your life.
But you breathe. That is all there is in the beginning. You breathe yourself from one moment to the next moment, through the minutes and hours, through days and nights. And there is nothing more one has to do. The most basic form of survival, bringing your body through this darkness. My mind wasn't functioning at all, complete shut down. I have spent a long time in this state.
People handle grief differently and all of those ways are fine and have to be accepted and respected.
A wonderful person made a gift to me. It is a book called "On Grief and Grieving. Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss". I want to recommend it to anyone who goes through the loss of a loved one. It doesn't necessarily have to be a separation by death. All losses can feel so absolute and painful. This book tells a lot of different stories about loss and how people survive those times. It praises life and all emotions. And it says so much more, that I cannot cover in a blog post. It is definitely worth a read.
The important thing is to give yourself permission to your very own form of grief.
The important thing is to feel, what you feel and accept it, as long as it takes.
The important thing is to not feel guilty, not allow yourself to be pushed through it, it can be a long process and so be it. Take as much time as you need.
The important thing is to leave the "should do's" and "have to's" behind you.
The important thing is to continue, even if it means doing nothing at first, even if it means crawling, even if it means to hurt.
It is a time to learn. A brutal way to make one learn, feeling smashed to pieces in order to get back up and discover life from a point zero. Yet I begin to believe, that the darkest and hardest times are the ones that hold the biggest lessons for us.
What is still left?
Who am I now?
What keeps me going?
Who and what is really part of my life?
What makes my heart beat faster?
What makes life loveable to me?
What brings joy and pleasure into my life?
What do I want?
I have a lot of inner questions. I have lost not only a person I loved, but our life together I loved, dreams, plans, hopes and wishes, a universe. I have lost "friends" along the way, everything just felt like a loss to me, lonely and cold.
And what is there to gain?
My love will always be with me, it can't be taken away from me, but the time has arrived I need to take care of another person I love- myself.
I am still here and the question is: How can I create new dreams, new plans, hopes, wishes and a universe for myself?
All I can say, there are those moments of joy I meanwhile do recognize. I am one of the lucky ones, loving the work I am doing. I love learning more and more about the subject I am working with and I was working all the time during this period. And I can go that far saying, that my work with those wonderful clients and me learning more, saved my days. I feel alive in those times, I feel meaning and purpose, I feel I am contributing, I feel I have something to give. Those are basic needs for all of us and when we can fill those needs for ourselves, life has meaning again and we grow through this.
So when you go through times like these, what is it, that fulfills your basic needs, at least some of them? What is still there of you, that didn't die or leave?
What interests you?
What can make you smile?
What touches you?
Where can you still detect beauty?
Do you find joy in spring time, the sun, new colors blossoming everywhere, the smells of fresh cut gras, the first ice cream of the year? Life comes slowly and in baby steps back. To discover, that the tiniest things, that I took for granted before, that were normal, can become so huge and overwhelming, was mind blowing to me. I see life in a different light, I see myself in a different light as well. I see a chance of a new beginning.
I got a new haircut. I left the hair of one year of pain and fear at the hairdressers. That was a huge and very emotional moment.
I begin to create new rituals for myself.
I go and buy flowers and fresh and good stuff to eat for myself.
I find new interests and want to learn things.
I enjoy gardening (yes I am one of those with 2 adorable cats, cutting bushes and planting flowers, and I love it).
I want to create connection, to myself, others, the world around me.
I begin to want to live and go beyond breathing. I wake up and begin anew.
I have hope and I listen to myself. I take my time, I go one step forward, 2 steps back. And you know, it is still forward, slow, yet moving.
Today is a good day and I embrace this sensation, it is huge.
Why am I saying all this?
I want to spread hope to those in very heavy and difficult times. I want to tell you, there is a way out of that, no matter, what you are going through. There is life in you and you can go and find it. And what you find will be different from what you might expect and it will be yours, you can become really you, a true you, carrying your loved one with you, not being left alone. You will discover a life that has a lot to give to you and you will have a lot to give in return. It is your duty to keep living- you owe it to yourself!
For Frédéric, my love.