Time doesn’t heal all wounds—it gives us time to heal ourselves.
And if we allow it, it teaches us.
Grief is an unpredictable thing, and it often comes in waves. Some come as a calm ripple throughout our day, and others come crashing over us and literally knock us off our feet—then we struggle to find our way back to the surface.
Grieving is personal and messy. It is anger and sadness, perseverance and resolve. It is numbing.
I was taught by example. “Pick your head up, wipe away those tears (or don’t let anyone see them in the first place), and pack up those feelings and push through your day.” Stoic and unwavering.
The issue is, when we pack up our grief, we suffocate.
I have grieved many times, and each journey was much different than the one before. I won’t list them all; just the ones that I unpacked, the ones that I allowed myself to feel, and the ones that helped me grow. And the one significant commonality among all of them was that I wanted to be there, in the thick of it. All in—unpacking the grief, feeling it, absorbing the pain around me and learning from it, then growing with it.
My maternal grandmother was the first loss I allowed myself to move through slowly and painfully. I can remember going to her home—she was already on hospice, a medical bed in a tiny room. I remember wanting to be there. She was fragile, vulnerable, and afraid. As I sat alone with her, she looked at me, and as she patted my hand she said, “I trust you.”
Trust is one of the most difficult things that I have yet to master. I’m guarded and skeptical. But from that moment, I learned that even at our weakest—our most vulnerable and afraid—there is always someone we can trust.
My next loss was unimaginable and impossible—it still is, and I’m still moving through it. At 33 years old, I lost the most influential and important person in my life: my father. Grieving the loss of his constant, unwavering support and his encouragement has been, at times, debilitating. His consistent belief that I could do anything made me believe it too. He was my cheerleader, my biggest fan, my most steadfast supporter, and he was always in my corner. His love and loss taught me the best lesson: if you choose to be anything for the people you love, be my father. Everyone needs someone in their corner.
And that leads me to the next loss. It was not as close to home, but it almost hit harder than the ones before, and I was the person my forever friend needed in her corner. Twenty-five years is a long time. A 25-year-old friendship that saw its darkest days and somehow its best all at the same time.
When you are hundreds of miles away from your person and she gets the most devastating news of her life, you feel helpless. Grieving my own losses were numbing—watching someone who you love grieve an unimaginable loss is almost physically painful. Nonetheless, you go all in. You put yourself in the thick of it. Every single day. Even if you just sit quietly in the back of the room. They know you are there…just showing up.
Grief stays with us. There will always be an ebb and flow. There will always be ripples. So when the big waves come, tread a little faster. Trust someone. Find your corner guy. Show up. We all find our way back to the surface and often with much more clarity and strength than we had before.