However, not having experienced this type of grief before, I now realize there is no clear path forward. It's more like an obstacle course.
Knowing that I will be living with a hole in my heart for the rest of my life, I had to take some time to figure out my next steps at this point in my journey. Here's what I have come up with:
- I need to focus on the moments -- today, this moment, right now. Not forgetting Randy, but being present and expressing my love for those who are in my life now.
- A lot of people say you need to be grateful for what you have in life versus focusing on what you do not. I think it's true. I need to be grateful for what I have in my life. Even though I have experienced tremendous loss, it's okay to be happy for what I have gained.
- I need to stop looking back and thinking about the past. Sure, there are moments I would have changed, but there are many I would not. Whatever the case, they are in the past and I have no effect over those moments now.
- I need to try to foster feelings of hopefulness. A few years ago, those feelings had all but abandoned me. Today, watching the news from around the world makes it hard, but we all have to fight for the feelings and idea of hope.
- I need to stop planning and trying to control things and let my life happen. By now, I should have learned this lesson, but for me it's been one of the hardest parts of the journey. Letting go and being open to the changes that present themselves in life.
Last evening I was talking to my neighbor. She had lost her son after a short, unexpected illness this past summer. As we were standing in my kitchen, I asked her how she was doing. She began crying for a moment but then regained her composure. She said to me: "My son is gone but I need to live my life." It's exactly how I feel. And that is what I am going to do.
This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn't make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grieve differently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let's talk about living with loss. If you have a story you'd like to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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