You know those movie scenes where a couple, or a family, or a group of teenagers is happily riding along in a car and out of nowhere – WHAM! – their vehicle is struck by another? Flying glass, screeching tires, crunching metal. Lives turned upside down in an instant. Sudden, unexpected, intense. That’s what grief is to me. I can be in the middle of some ordinary activity and a memory or thought runs through my head, or a song plays on the radio, or I pass some place that reminds me of my husband, and all at once the tears come.
I cry for the loss – a life cut short, a man gone too soon. I cry for the things that will never be – a father walking his daughter down the aisle, a man holding his grandchild for the very first time, a couple celebrating 30, 40, 50 years of marriage. I cry for the beauty of a love that most people only dream of. I cry for what I once had, and what I now don’t. I cry for the absolutely unfairness of it all. My tears are borne of pain, love, sorrow, worry, anger, grief and bliss.
You can never plan for the “when” of grief. You can’t set aside time to handle it when you have a moment to spare. You can’t choose where you’ll be when it either builds to a crescendo before breaking over you or takes you by surprise, like a bolt of lightning in a clear blue sky. You can be prepared only by knowing that it will hit at some point, often unexpectedly. It may be a brief but violent torrent, or it may be a slow, relentless outpouring of anguish.
I try to experience it all, the good and the not so good; the last thing I want or need is to bottle it up, to hold it back, to not feel. I’ve always been “sensitive”, and wear my heart on my sleeve. I have no poker face whatsoever, and people can easily read me. It can sometimes be disadvantage, because I truly feel the pain of others, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. In order to truly appreciate the highs in life, you must endure the lows. It sounds trite, but the heartaches really do make the joys that much sweeter.
So my intention is to not allow this to numb me to life. Not make me want to hole up somewhere, simply play it safe and shelter myself from further pain. Rather, just the opposite – I want to live more, experience things deeper, allow my emotions to rock me to the core. If fate has conspired to change my life, it is up to me to decide in what way it will be different. Fear will not hold me back. Grief will not be the end, no matter how many times it blindsides me. I will come out on the far side of it – forever changed, somewhat different, but better for having allowed myself to feel the flame. Like steel forged in fire, I will be stronger.
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