Trauma and loss have no bounds. You can’t be shielded from them because the sun is shining, or because the subtle ocean breeze is causing the waves to ripple and dance on the water, or even by your own sweet boy, cherub-like as he is, laughing and splashing in the muddy puddles of the harbor. A “perfect” day in anyone’s book. And the last day that we were a family of four. Not knowing in that exact moment, that you had already left us, and I was only carrying the shadow your soul left behind. The juxtaposition of joyous light and heart-wrenching darkness couldn’t be more poignant.
As I continue to process this loss, I hope to create space and grant permission for others to share and voice similar losses – the ones we’re supposed to be quiet about; the ones that others can never fully understand unless they too have had such a loss; the ones that happened early – and maybe to some, don’t “warrant” the grief that is felt – those losses. The ones where you feel a gut-wrenching sadness and emptiness, in spite of what anyone has to say about it. A palpable, paralyzing, crushing emptiness. In the past few days, I have received different kinds of support, or attempts at support, from others – all well intentioned, but some not very helpful or supportive at all. And as I have bravely learned to do over time – through a lot of trips and falls; self-doubt; self-blame; spinning and spiraling – I am choosing to take what feels supportive and healing, and leave behind what doesn’t. Leave behind any words that were hurtful, even if they weren’t meant to be; any gazes that were filled with pity…and build myself back up the only way I ever truly have known how: by creating space (physically and emotionally), and granting myself permission to feel whatever it is that I am feeling. To feel all of it, without judgment – to honor it, look at it, integrate it into the essence of my being, and give myself time to process this loss – surrounding myself with people and tools that are supportive and useful to me. In this particular moment: listening to soulful music – alone – with my thoughts, feelings and a vehicle to release and honor them, at a quiet table, in a quiet café, by myself.
A dear friend sent me this quote, which resonated, so I chose to grab onto it and let it be a part of this healing process – a part of my artillery, so to speak: “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” ~Rumi. What a beautiful offering to consider. That perhaps only with and through the wound itself, will we have access to a very particular, very powerful kind of Light that we may not have otherwise had access to. The solar eclipse, also being referenced as the “Great American Eclipse,” took place on Monday. Such an interesting time for me to be processing this loss. Another supportive insight that crossed my path, included this offering by Chani Nicholas: “Eclipse season is a time when endings and beginnings occur abruptly. A time when we get to witness the parts of ourselves that we normally wouldn’t. The parts that live in the shadows. The parts that need healing the most. Eclipse season is a time when the events of our lives tend to take on a more fated quality. What occurs now has heightened importance.” I’m starting to feel that in a very palpable way. The sadness and loss are still there, but what has joined it is a new intentionality – a more deliberate, purposeful way of choosing and living. For with choice, comes power: power and healing – taking a stand – choosing to put one foot in front of the other – not mindlessly, but with deep, authentic, intention. Choosing not only where to put each foot, but how strong or lightly to step on the ground and at what pace; which direction and toward what shape; and surrounded by what types and kinds of support. Getting to choose all of those things is empowering and at the very core of healing, regardless of what kind of trauma or loss you have endured.
Cheryl Strayed has this to say about feeling “stuck” in grief and loss: “This is how you get unstuck. You reach. Not so you can walk away from the [loss], but so you can live the life that is yours – the one that includes the sad loss…but is not arrested by it. Nobody will protect you from your suffering. It’s just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it. And run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal.” Another dear dear friend sent me the book where this passage resides. It appeared on my doorstep just a few days after the loss. And this was a support that I eagerly dove into, wrapped around me, and allowed its words to leave an imprint – to reside within. Making choices like that is how I will get to that bridge – the bridge on the other side of this loss.
But the loss will not be forgotten. It is a part of me now. A part of my fabric. We named the baby Rose. She has a song too. And I am certain her memory will endure – maybe at times with a soft, supportive essence, and other times with a guttural void. And I will welcome them both. They can both exist in how I hold her memory; how I hold this loss. The light and the dark. The Rose beyond the shadow.