I'm not a person who makes new year resolutions. I think if I want to start a new project, take a class, organize my house, read a pile of books, take a vacation, or get healthier.......I can do that anytime of the year. I can decide to do that anytime during the year. But there is a feeling that happens when the new year is approaching. A cleansing of everything that happened in the past year and the hopes of some sort of a fresh new start. So many new possibilites lay before us and I love that feeling. New Years Eve is one of my favorite holidays for this reason. Today I took down my Christmas decorations and started to clean and organize my little house. It's a new fresh start. A new beginning on the horizon. Another new year in my healing journey.
Follow your heart in 2018. Your heart always knows the way to your truth, to your path, to your healing, to your purpose. Your heart knows what to do to heal itself. You just have to get quiet and listen.
I’m sitting here today looking out my bedroom window at the newly fallen snow. It is almost a new year. 2018. Another new year that my husband will not exist in. I have been guiding others in their grief for two years now and so many people think that my own grief is completely healed but of course, my grief is always just beneath the surface of my skin. Today in my bedroom I am organizing piles of paperwork while I can hear our children’s laugher and sounds of play from the living room. I am sorting through the past. Something that I am not always able to do without breaking down into sobs and feeling awful for days after. I know so many people think that I have moved on from my husband but he is always part of me. I have a small dresser in our, now my, bedroom where I store his life, our life, my memories and treasures of him.
Follow your heart.
In the dresser there are photographs that date back to when we started dating in 2004. There is also his pairs of glasses, a coffee can we saved from Puerto Rico that is filled with his recepits and tiny pieces of paper with his handwriting, the watch I gave him one year for Christmas that he never wore, our wedding rings, his work pens, the program from his funeral, cards and letters we wrote each other over the years, and even his chapstick. In another drawer is our wedding and vacation albums. And the bottom drawer holds his one work uniform with his name on it that I just couldn’t let go of, his dirty farm hat, and two pairs of work gloves. This is a dresser filled with the last bits of the man that I thought I would share my entire life with. It has come down to this one small dresser filled with memories, heartbreak, and love. If my house were to ever catch on fire I would grab our two children and run them out to safety, go back in and get our animals, and return into the burning house for this one small dresser. If I didn't have the items in this dresser it feels like.........Did he exist? Because some days it's hard to remember when he was alive. Because some days I'm still just surviving. Because life has changed for me in so many ways and sometimes this entire tragedy feels like a bad dream. Because some days I am tough as nails and feel like a warrior and some days I can't believe I'm all alone in the world without a sidekick to catch me if I fall. But....I've become used to being my own hero. I've become used to getting through the tough days and the sad nights by myself and I have such an amazing community of friends, family, and all of my amazing online people I have met through my writing.
Yes, I still have grief. And yes, sometimes I want to keep it to myself or save telling you about it for my writing for my book. But then I think.........my book is my baby. It might take me another year to finish it and it might take me another 20 years to finish it and either is ok.......I'm not in any rush to rush it along. It's my story of what happened to my family. It's our story of grief. And it's also our story of healing and moving forward and helping others. So there's no rush. The story is always there in my mind and my heart. It's painful to replay some of the memories so I'm taking my time and allowing myself to step away from it when it becomes too much and I need space to clear my head and heal my heart a bit more. So, today I tell you that yes, I still have grief. It still knocks me down once-in-awhile. I have gone months without breaking down. And then the holidays come and my children cry about missing their Papa, and I am surrounded by memories, and I am around my husband's family, and new relationships in my life that are so amazing can somehow trigger bits of our grief. It's all a process. It's all layers. I sat in my basement the other day and I opened the drawer to some of the past and I sobbed. I sobbed for an entire day. It still stings. It still hurts like hell. It's still shitty. Why? Because it was suicide and unfortunately it leaves so many things unaswered and can leave you feeling worthless, unloved, and just plain old confused. I hurt for my children. Our little guy is now 4 and he doesn't remember his Dad. Our little girl is now 6 1/2 and she barely does. I hurt for them because they will never know a day with his laughter. I hurt for them because they will never know his hugs or his jokes or his kind-heart. They will never go bike riding with him, camping, and he won't be here when they fall and cry. And he won't be here when they grow up and spread their little wings. It still stings. My grief is silent now. Nobody asks me about it anymore and that's ok. What more is there to say? Yes, I'm doing great. Yes, most days I feel amazing and I love my life. And also yes, some days it still stings my heart to see my babies cry for their Dad. Yes, some days I still feel unworthy and lost and unloved. But that's when I know I need more healing. More nature. More turning inward to heal my emotions. More listening to my heart to find my true path and not chosing any path out of confusion, lonliness, or desperation.
Follow your heart.
I am headed into 2018 with grief still in my heart. And that's ok. I don't push it away anymore or punish myself for having a sad day and thinking I should be "over" it by now. We are never completely over someone dying. We will forever miss them, wish to hear their laughter, long for the security we felt when they were alive, and look for them in a crowd. And that's ok. That's human. That's real. Yes, I am in a new relationship but that doesn't erase my grief. I think so many people think if a widow starts to date again that their grief is magically erased. That is very much not true. The grief is still there but also there is the understanding that the person who died is never coming back to earth and we very much deserve to have love in our lives and a new relationship. We can be happy and feeling amazing in our new relationship and still carry grief in our hearts. That is just reality. And if this is you? If you're a widow wondering if you should date again. Yes, you should it you want to and No, you don't have to. And please make sure you date someone who understands your grief on even a small level. Someone who doesn't shy away from your sad days or from your beautiful and joyful days. And if they can't handle your grief? Then they aren't the one for you. Will heartbreak on top of hearbreak hurt like hell? Of course it will but you will survive. You will heal. You will feel the sun again. Your heart will feel joy again.
Follow your heart.
This is my 3rd year without him here on this earth and yes, it gets easier in some ways and in some ways you just cover up your wound and keep pushing forward. I have healed so many layers of my heart. I have been brave and put myself back out into the dating world. I have told the universe that I am worthy and that damn it......I deserve a beautiful and amazing life after all the shit I've had to endure. I'm not settling. I want big love. I want so much laughter. I want adventure. And I want to keep being of service to others because I feel it's one of my callings to do so. So that's why I open up my heart and show you inside of it via my blog. The night my husband died I searched the internet for some words of comfort. I hope my words can be of comfort to someone on the first night or the 100th night or the 1,000th night they are without their loved one.
What are your dreams for the new year ahead? What steps are you taking to take good care of yourself? What are some projects you hope to accomplish? It's ok to still have dreams and goals even with grief in your heart. It's ok to move forward. It's ok to follow your heart into a new job, a new house, move to a new state, or fall in love all over again. Your heart is never wrong. It's connected to your soul and your soul knows everything about you.
You can take your grief with you into 2018. Don't beat yourself up about not being "all better" this year. Healing is a lifetime journey. It ebbs and flows. It's up and down and back and forth. Your grief becomes a part of who you are. Let it make you braver. Let it make you wiser. Let it make you more compassionate. Don't let it harden you or make you lock yourself away from the world.
How are you living? Are you being brave? Are you loving to others? Are you opening your heart? I'm proud of you. Some days we are shining in the sun and some days we can hardly get out of bed. Life is both.
2018 for me is going to be a year of love. It's going to be a year of adventure. It's going to be a year of me putting my grief work into action in my community and on my website. It's going to be a year of me braving the wilderness and only saying "Yes" to things that set my soul on fire. Because of my tragedy.....because I had to say goodbye to someone that I was still in love with when death took them.......I am not afraid of losing. I now know how to love and let go. I know how to do what is right for me and not stay in any place in my life that doesn't feel loving and real. This is going to be a year of my children growing, laughing, learning, and hopefully tons of camping adventures.
I'm always thinking of you.....you with grief in your heart. I have readers from all over the world and I'm so grateful for all of you. I'm so sorry you're in this grief boat with me but I'm grateful we have the internet to share and spread our stories to help each other heal.
It's not easy to step into a new year without your loved one. It feels odd. It feels sad. Let the memories be a warm blanket to your soul. Fill up your own little dresser or box with all of your memories of your loved one to help your heart. Reach out if you need additional support.
Follow your heart into 2018......it always knows the way to your healing, your path, your rising.
And this blog post? Share it......spread the love.
Thank you. I'm sending so much hope and healing to your brave heart as it moves into 2018.
Love and light, Nik