I find the juxtaposition of early grief and 21-year grief startling.

As I went through this latest date marking Leah’s death, it felt more difficult than other years.  Maybe it always does, and I forget that it does. The date of the death shines a glaring light on the event that changed the course of my life.

Revisiting the time of early grief in this chapter shows me the passage of time in an almost surreal way.  This chapter plunges me into the unknown territory of life without Leah’s physical presence. My feelings were raw and unformed back then. I was reminded of the terror I felt as I faced what was to come, not feeling like I had anywhere near the skills or capacity to do so.

How does one continue to live after the death of a child?

All those thoughts were coursing through my body at that time, sending me deeper into my own shell, isolating me from my deepest fear.

This year as I sat with my feelings, I noticed them circling around me, waiting for their turn. It’s almost like they trust me now, so they can wait quietly until I am ready for them. I invited them in, one at a time, feeling them deeper than I have allowed myself before now. It feels to me that as I continue this journey, that is what happens, each year I am able to go deeper into my feelings, and when I do, they shift a little more, and show me their wisdom.

It’s always a relief when that day is over, it’s intensity, even now is not somewhere I want to live every day.

I do take with me the blessings and grace that always show up when I am with my feelings as they arise in each moment.The blessings and grace that allow me to continue this path, to walk with others on their grief journeys and teach them how to tend to their hearts after a loss so deep.

I always emerge from this time with gratitude.

Gratitude that I met my grief journey the way I did; by doing that I am able to live my life fully. And that means being able to feel the full spectrum of all my feelings, even when they are painful.