The 15th anniversary of Leah’s accident and death was last week. This year’s experience was nothing like any of the preceding years and brought a few surprises. The previous weekend we visited our son in Minneapolis. We had a nourishing visit as always. We laughed and talked about silly and important things. We received lots of really good hugs. On my way home I thought to myself that this was a good way to start the week, it will ease some of the pain.
I was completely surprised that on the exact date and time I learned of Leah’s accident that I began to cry. It was one of those cries that felt bottomless; that if I gave in to it I would drop so far down into the well of grief that I would not come out. I did not want to go to that well. I am tired of the flood of feelings. I asked myself, haven’t I endured these emotions long enough? And the truth is, no.
Resisting feeling makes the suffering greater.
Resisting dams up the grief and it begins to feel overwhelming, like I am going to burst. Resisting going there prolongs the pain.
So I let myself feel the pain.
I let the tears come exactly as they showed up.
I let myself, once again, feel the helplessness of not being able to help my daughter live. I let myself feel the sadness of missing her.
Each day for five days I let my grief come in waves. My energy was low all week, I felt sad, sadder than I have for a while. All week long I relived memories of her, really good memories. Memories that made me smile and laugh. For the first time in a long time I hear her songs on the radio. And I cried. Tears sprang up at surprising intervals, out of nowhere, or so it seemed. Through it all I could not wrap my head around 15 years.
15 years without seeing her light.
15 years without touching her.
15 years without an eye roll.
15 long years.
On the sixth day, the actual anniversary of her death, I emerged with new insights. I felt strong. I felt like myself again. My sadness was lifting. This round of the grief spiral provided me with insights into my clients and perspective clients hesitancy to enter their own grief journey. The fear that is felt when we enter the unknown. The knowledge that if we enter that path, it will be painful, and it may bring up issues we have not thought about in a long time.
Grief can be like a protective shield around our hearts.
If we do not acknowledge it then we do not have to feel. If we do not feel then maybe the grief will all go away. I can tell you grief does not go away, it gets bigger, stronger, and more overwhelming and the effort of trying to keep it at bay becomes exhausting.
Yes, I am tired of reliving the accident and remembering that she died five days later. It is nothing compared to the exhaustion and potential health issues that can arise from pushing down or repressing feelings. It takes great courage and heart to feel grief day after day, month after month, year after year. Each time you do, each time I do, the blessings and graces far exceed the pain of resistance.
I am still assimilating this year’s gifts, but here is what I know so far:
I am ready to unconditionally love myself, including all the parts that are difficult to love.
I am ready to take a stand for myself with myself, and live fully aligned with my Truth.
I will not sacrifice my self-care, my pleasure, or my desires to fit anyone else’s expectations.
I am willing to be vulnerable.
It feels vulnerable to state these things here, and you may ask how it this relates to Leah’s death.
Her death provided me with a huge initiation, the opportunity to completely deconstruct my life, to excavate my authentic self, the me that I am, the fullest expression of my Nanciness. And that is why I do this work.
I hold the space for you to go deep, feel your feelings, do your work and discover your authentic self, your Truth.
Grief is not pretty, fun, or cut and dried. It is messy, painful, hard and real. When you have the courage to enter it, to engage your feelings, to bring them into the light of day, you can get through it, layer by layer, but you will get through, and along the way you may just discover a you that is longing to come out and play.