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January 24, 2021

Overwhelmed by Grief: How to Enter the Open Space of Uncertainty & Healing.

Here is my observation on sudden loss.

It catapults us out of the everyday and into a vast open space. It is a terrifying open space, but from a distance, we can see what really matters and what really doesn’t.

Losing my mother profoundly shifted my perspective on life and what I thought I wanted. Suddenly, things I had been holding in precise focus completely lost their meaning. And what was actually important became salient.

I did not have the energy to worry about whether my children ate a full serving of vegetables for dinner or if the President said something stupid on Twitter.

In this new, wide expanse, all those things drifted into nothingness. They did not have relevance, so they simply floated away.

Resting next to my babies while they slept peacefully was the only thing for which I had any energy. Spending time with my brothers. Walking in nature. Breathing. This was all I could do, all that held significance in those first hours and days.

I could no longer feel the ground beneath my feet, so there was clearly no use for emails or office meetings. World news was of no interest. Instead, I found peace in quiet moments with family, hot baths, and gentle hugs. My husband holding my hand while we watched the sunset. Friends. Sunshine. Connection.

Food had little flavor, but sitting for a meal with my dad and sharing stories, laughter, and tears—that mattered, that helped. Watching my boys play, listening to them talk about her as though she was still right there—that mattered, that helped.

And, as time passes and life has begun to suck me back in, I make it a point to remember those first moments after she left us—like a compass pointing me back to what is real.

When I am struggling to center myself in the chaos, I remember that the open space of uncertainty is okay.

What is precious and sacred does not float away. There can be freedom in feeling weightless. The opportunity exists in open space.

Maybe the path we have been walking is no longer serving us, and we must allow the ground to fall away to learn that we can actually fly.


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Sara Striefel  |  Contribution: 120

author: Sara Striefel

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Editor: Robert Busch