I don't like dishing out advice.
I like to tell stories and let you take from it what feels right for you and ditch what doesn't.
I'm not ever going to stand in front of any crowd or write any book that tells you some 100% foolproof way to heal your grief, to find your soul, to follow your true purpose towards your grace.
Little idea bubbles pop into my head and then I write.
I write what has been my life.
I write what I have learned through life experience, hundreds of books, and what my own spirituality tells me.
So....I don't want to be some advice columnist but what is something I wish a nice human had told me the day that I drove home from my first husbands funeral?
I wish they had told me to lean into the terrible.
I wish someone had been honest with me and told me, "You're going to make it through but this is going to be hard.....this is going to suck."
No one told me that.
Of course I knew that in a way.....I knew that my husband was dead, my future was unknown, and I had a pile of paperwork on my kitchen table to deal with. I knew it was all going to be terrible because I felt terrible.
But I didn't know how awful it was really going to get.
I had no clue how terrible I would really feel.
I never knew that trauma, horror, and grief can make you curl up in bed and scream.
I didn't know that the grief would wear on not only my heart but my body.
I didn't know that I would lie awake for so many nights terrified of every sound I heard in my house.
I didn't know that grieving for my husband was going to make me want to stay in bed forever.
No one told me this.
Yes, people told me what I should do with his belongings.
Yes, people told me they were sorry for my loss.
Yes, people gave endless financial advice. They told me that I should just get out with friends and I would feel better. But they didn't tell me how terrible I was going to feel. They didn't tell me that I might want to leave this earth while I was curled up in a ball on our bed crying for hours.
No one told me to lean into the terrible.
Well...looking back..not another person in my circle of life had become widowed at 35. It was truly only my beloved grandpa that understood.
I resisted that terrible. It's my stubborn nature. It's my rebel heart. I faught that terrible and thought I could just wish it away, hide from it under the covers, or pretend it wasn't there hiding under my bed.
You can't run from the terribleness of grief.
When you lean in? It softens. It's still terrible but you're not fighting it anymore which is so exhausting.
No one told me it was going to get awful before it got better. And no one told me that when the terrible days came.....I should just lean into them.
Lean into the terrible.
Don't let your mind tell you that it will always be terrible. Maybe it will. But maybe it won't.
Maybe if you take care of yourself the terribleness will lessen or soften over time.
Grief and especially trauma doesn't get better.......You get better. The tragedy of your loved one dying will always be a awful sadness and that story doesn't just go away. But your emotions soften. The terrible starts to lessen. Or maybe you learn how to get yourself up out of bed, get dressed, open the curtains, and step out the door.
Maybe you had to lean into the terrible before it could have any chance at getting better.
So, if your spouse dies and I drop off a card in the funeral basket?
The inside might read, "Lean into the terrible. It's going to be really hard but you can get through it. I am here for you with a warm hug and comfort food anytime you need it. 2am? Call me and I'll come running."
And that card will be filled with so much love, hope, and empathy. That card will be telling you that I have walked in your shoes......those shoes that are leaving a funeral and have no idea which direction to go. I've been there and I've been through the very, very terrible and I'm still here 7 years later.
You will make it through the terrible.
You just gotta learn how to lean in.
Love always, Nik
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