When sudden loss erupts into your life, the computer becomes your constant companion, your best friend, the place you go searching for anything that sounds true and right and healing.
Back in 2009, my searches didn’t yield much of anything.
That’s no longer true: the grief landscape is changing. There are more websites now that deal with the reality of grief, acknowledging the truth without trying to pretty it up into something it’s not. There are more voices speaking, shouting, singing about their love and their loss. And it makes me both thankful and sad.
Thankful, of course, because no one should have to go through this completely alone. And sad – for me, for that me I was back then. I sometimes feel like I just didn’t look in the right places. Maybe I just didn’t try hard enough, or I had my search terms all wrong. Maybe my sights were too high, and my needs too – different.
But I know this isn’t true. Back then, it really was desolate. In all of those hours of searching, I found loads of resources for fixing grief; I found very few that spoke to supporting grief. I found only a handful of people who sounded like me (and thank all that is holy for that handful).
Discouraged with the on-line world, I went to the teachers and writers I had known in my life Before, and even their words couldn’t reach me. They were speaking of issues and losses that are common in everyday life. Watching your partner drown on an otherwise beautiful day is not common ordinary life.
And those old teachings weren’t just inapplicable, they were offensive: all those typical lines about things falling away so you could become more truly yourself, about how this is what was needed for your best growth – they were a smack in the face.
So many of the ordinary teachings make it sound like grief is wrong. It gets lumped in there with the so-called “negative” or “dark” emotions like fear and rage.
Most teachings want to you find the “reason” in your grief, the gift that lies inside it if you will only look.
As I have said a million times, and will keep on saying: telling someone to “look for the gift” in their grief doesn’t help them bear it. It tells them they should look somewhere else for support.
A lot has changed since my first few years in this landscape of grief. Thankfully, true support is becoming easier to find. Not easy, not by a long stretch. But easier.
That you are here, reading this, is a sign of that change, and a foundation for really, truly over-hauling how we come to grief – in ourselves and in each other.
My hope here with this site, and with my book, It’s OK That You’re Not OK, is to bring better words to the landscape of grief.
Everything I do is to let you know, again and again, that you don’t need to look for the gift in your grief, you just need to live it. Moment by moment.
And there is something else you should know: I’ve lived with this life, this grief, for long enough now that I can reach back to others. I can write from my mind and my heart about being a companion to yourself in your grief. I can educate others on how to truly be of help to those they love. And the truth is, I am still learning. I’m still a person in pain.
There are moments – even very long moments – when I cannot believe that this is all real. That it wasn’t just a dream, or something that happened to someone else.
I am still learning how to tend to myself, how to shift with the weight of love and all it means in me now.
I can’t forget that, even for a moment. It is my foundation, and my root, and my reason.
I’m glad our grief culture is changing. And I’m so very glad to hear from so many of you that my words make things… different, somehow.
You let me know that I wasn’t ever really the only one who felt this way, or who wanted a more whole, honest way of living with loss.
And please do keep reaching out – to me, to each other, to the larger world. We’re in this together.
Together, we’ll make grief support – true, real, beautiful, powerful support – that much easier to find, for ourselves, and for all those yet to come searching.
As always, I’d love to hear from you – leave me a comment, or send me a message.