Grief Does Not Define My Life

I LOVE NEW YEARS.

I love a time devoted to diving inward to find more clarity and renewed insight into your hopes for the future. It’s a good time to see how far you’ve come and practice being gentle with yourself.

I sat in my window seat on the plane ride home, scribbling furiously in my journal about 2018…

when suddenly the teenage boy in the middle seat PUKED ALL OVER THE ROW. His mom was completely unprepared, vomit went everywhere. I tried to press myself against the window, trying not to show any emotion so the poor thing wouldn’t feel even worse! The last line from my journal literally reads “I literally just got thrown up on by the boy sitting next to me so BYE 2018!”

HAHAHA. I never saw this coming for my trip home. I could have let it piss me off and ruin the rest of the day- or I could tell everyone and laugh at my own ability to get into these situations. I mean come on, it’s funny! Super gross… but hilarious. Without even realizing it, I had turned the situation around.

I sat around the breakfast table on New Year’s Day, recounting this story to my best friends. We chose to share our reflections and goals. I told them that I realized it has become harder as I’ve gotten older to always be the person I want to be. To always know WHO I want to be. When we were younger, it wasn’t such a choice. We didn’t constantly edit our actions and thoughts, questioning our every move. We just ACTED, we LIVED, we let ourselves BE. I used to be so effortlessly positive and happy.

When that got stolen from me 3 years ago, I dove into my grief. I tried to do it SO RIGHT. I put thought and time and intention into it. But… did that make it too much of a focus in my life? I don’t think so- or at least I hope not. I needed that time. I needed that hard work. And now I’m feeling ready and determined to reclaim my emotional freedom. I am excited to be joyful.

 

Y’all there’s something major that I have worried about with this blog, so I want to make sure it gets addressed.

 

I have struggled from the get-go with what kind of it impression it makes for me to talk about death all the time. If I were just randomly popping up on my Instagram feed with pictures of my mom constantly and dwelling on grief, that would be worrisome. I think, to many, it comes across that way. But this is kind of my job now. I have taken joy and pride in my work. Because that’s what it is, it’s a creative project. It’s work. And at the end of the day, I can put that aside and turn back to the happier things. It’s a hard balance, devoting my writing to grief, while clarifying that it doesn’t rule my life.

But sometimes, I don’t want to write. Sometimes, if I have a really good week, I struggle to come up with a topic- because the journey of grief ought to come with peaks and valleys, and I don’t always feel like writing about the sad stuff. When I’m in a good mood, I don’t want to turn away from it.

At the end of the day, though, I consider it a gift that I have come to this point, where I get to have deeply personal and important vulnerable discussions about the less-than-pretty parts of life. I feel it is a privilege, and something I am called to do. I am willing to lay it all out on the table if it will help you out.

I hope you know that I do not let the loss of my mom define me.

I won’t lie, when I first lost her, I thought it really did define me. It took time and perspective, but I came to realize that there was a power in owning my story- power that I didn’t need to let go of. But it does not need to overshadow the other things that equally contribute to my identity.

 

It is vitally important to not let your grief define you.

Let me say it for the people in the back. YOUR GRIEF DOES NOT DEFINE YOU.

 

The loss you have suffered contributes to your story, and your story is a huge part of who you are. But your grief is not the ONLY plot point in your story. Alongside it, there will be others you love, incredible memories, talents, personality traits, and who even knows what may lay in store in the years to come.

I made a decision when I started this blog. I didn’t want to sound like I was giving advice. I don’t think it’s possible to have all the answers and I certainly don’t think I know everything, if anything! All I know is that, as I stumble through this stage of life, some things work and some things don’t. I’m just willing to share my stories in hopes that you might possibly benefit.

I will continue to use my story to help others. I will continue to share my vulnerabilities to keep each other company in hard times. But I just want to make sure you guys know that I don’t go through my day constantly pondering death and loss. I refuse to mope. I do not needlessly dwell.

So if it doesn’t help you to have weekly triggers, only come to this place when you are in need of a resource. Do not let grief rule your life. And I will always be here for you.

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