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Officially, I grieved the loss of my brother for a year. But unofficially, the heartache has lasted much longer.
The first few weeks were a whirlwind of disorientation and disbelief. Life continued on around me as normal, but I felt like I was living in a different dimension. People would talk about the weather or something on Netflix, and it was all so foreign to me.
Everyday things that used to bring me joy no longer made any sense. There was an emptiness inside of me that refused to be filled. It would have been so much easier just to pack up my heart and leave, but I had to keep going. I had to find a way to live with this new reality.
The grief was like a heavy fog that followed me around everywhere I went. It was all-consuming and completely incapacitating at times. I felt like I was just existing, not truly living.
I tried to busy myself with work and relationships and anything to quiet my mind. But it was impossible to escape the pain. I had to learn this new version of my life, and that meant learning how to grieve.
So where do you even start?
Grief is a journey, not a destination. We hear that adage all too often. It’s in motivational Facebook posts and Hallmark cards. It’s in other things that feel utterly devoid of sincerity.
But it’s true.
Grief is something you have to walk through, not around.
It’s a process of ups and downs, good days and bad. And it doesn’t necessarily get easier with time. You just learn how to carry the weight a little bit better.
The journey of grief is different for everyone. There is no right or wrong way to do it. There are no timelines or roadmaps. You just have to keep moving forward, one day at a time.
The most important thing is to allow yourself to feel the pain. It’s okay to be angry, or sad, or scared. These are all perfectly valid emotions. In fact, suppressing your feelings will only make the process more difficult. It’s important to let yourself feel the full range of emotions to begin to heal.
I lost my brother nearly three years ago, and I’m still an imperfect example of what grief looks like. I have good days and bad days. Some days I can function normally, and on others, I can barely get out of bed.
But I’m still here, still moving forward. And that’s what matters.
What has helped me the most is not being so hard on myself when the bad days come. I’ve learned to give myself grace and understand that grief is a part of my life now.
It’s a part of who I am. And that’s okay. It doesn’t mean that I’m sad or broken. It just makes me human.
Leaning into my own humanity has been the most healing thing I’ve done for myself. It has allowed me to be more compassionate with others and to understand that we are all struggling in our own way.
Opening myself up to my own vulnerability has been scary and difficult, but it has also been worth it. Understanding that my feelings are wide and varied has meant that I can develop more empathy for myself. I needed that.
It’s shown me more of myself than I ever knew was there. And it can show you things too. The first step is to allow yourself to feel. From there, the journey will begin to reveal itself.
Allow yourself to stumble and fall. Allow yourself to make mistakes. Allow yourself to feel grief in whatever way it comes.
This is your journey, and you have to walk it in your own way.
But know that you’re not alone. We all have grief in our lives. We all have pain and loss.
The hard things are what break us open into the people we are meant to be.
So, if you’re grieving right now, know that it’s okay. You’re doing the best you can.
And know that with time, the pain will lessen and you will find your way through to the other side.
If you’re currently on the journey of grief, I see you. I feel you. And I’m here with you, every step of the way.