Dear Me

Dear Past Me,

People don’t know you now. Don’t blame them. They’ve lost the “you” they knew and they are grieving that loss. It can be a little scary to meet new people. And, believe me, you are new.  It can be a little scary to meet new people, especially when you don’t want to; you didn’t exactly sign up for this particular opportunity. The people who seem to have turned their backs are now new to you, as well.

Many can’t cope with the depth of your pain because they haven’t felt it. If they have come close, maybe they can’t be there for you because they’re working with their own pain and wondering where everyone in their own world went.

You comfort those who don’t know what to say. That’s part of the unspoken job description of grieving. You’re letting others know that you actually are okay even when nothing feels okay. That’s okay. No one is obligated to actually be okay.

People are afraid to cry. People are afraid they’ll make you cry. If they talk to you about your loss and your grief they’ll feel it and that makes them so uncomfortable they’ll avoid it. The only way to avoid feeling anything is to avoid you. That isn’t about you. It isn’t about you at all.

Once your grief softens, once enough healing has happened that you can, once in a while, speak of your loved one without tears or, perhaps with tears of joy, with laughter, with gratitude, it’s easier for people to meet you where you are because it’s closer to where they are and where they remember you being. Your strength will build until you’re ready to meet people again, where they are.

Moving through grief and into mourning, which lasts a lifetime, is an incredibly lonely journey. You’d like to think you’ll really be there for someone else when they need you to be but the truth is, you won’t be because you are learning to live again and it’s taking all you’ve got in you. When it’s your turn to be there for someone, to comfort them, you’ll feel helpless, too. You won’t know what to say and what you do say will feel trite or heartless because you’ll think you know what they feel but you don’t. No one can know what can’t be known. Every loss, every grief, every journey on every path is unlike any other.

It’s not true that they were never friends anyway. Of course they were friends! They’re still friends in that they still care about you. People generally care about other people, don’t they? When you lost your loved one, you also lost the relationships the two of you had with others. It is loss upon loss upon loss. They were good times; there are gifts that won’t go away. Now there are spaces for new connections. The hardest work is allowing them in. The hardest work is looking outside yourself again.

You’ll think you can’t possibly feel any more alone or lonely than you do. You’ll wish that you could die. You’ll think, sometimes, it wouldn’t matter if you did. You’ll think no one would even notice and if they did, they certainly wouldn’t miss you; not this sad, angry, negative, hopeless, worthless being you think you’ve become. You’ll exist within a slow suicide. What you won’t be able to see is just how much you are loved by people you never even realized gave you a second thought; people who, despite their fear of your loss and your grief, never actually stopped thinking of you. How could you have known? You couldn’t have. That is why I’m telling you now not to give up on yourself. You can’t hear me. I know because I remember being you. But maybe somehow, because of you, I’ll be able to hear you now; and from now on.

It hasn’t felt like it to you, but you have been working so hard. You have a heart which slammed shut and erected an impenetrable wall around itself you weren’t even aware of. You still felt everything, profoundly, but you felt it alone. You could look out but no one could really see in even when you thought they could… or should, not even when you thought you were letting them in. What I want you to know is that it was important that it happened this way. It was essential that you go so far inside yourself you lost the entire world and everything in it including everything you ever thought you were or wanted to be and everything you thought was yours.

There will come a day, I promise you, though you can’t begin to imagine it, your heart will again be touchable and touched. The wall will come down. And when you step out again into the light of this reality, you will glow and your wings will be sparkling and radiant.

Remember, healing happens in the spaces of new connections.

Spaces are usually silent.

With love and compassion,
Holding you until you meet me where I am.

Future Me

A Different Sea-When the World Has Moved On – A Poem by Melissa Murphy

Grief softens

it shifts

it changes

it erupts

it cripples, it heals but is never healed.

It is a constant companion in all the shapes and forms and intensities it takes.

The loss takes everything

…all at once.

And anything you have left is taken up simply by continuing to breathe.

Continue to breathe.

A single breath followed by another single breath.

And continue from your side of this life, in the silence of your own breath, to embrace the one you love who died.

Continue to include that love in all that you do and you’ll begin to hear their whispers in the wind, you’ll feel their presence brush your cheek, they’ll paint magnificent gifts in the clouds just for you and for all the world to see.

For those who notice.

Many won’t.

Not until they do.

Not until their own hearts are ripped by loss, when the grief introduces them to gravity.

It will happen.  It does happen.  To everyone.

It’s just your turn to walk before them.

They haven’t abandoned you.  They haven’t turned their backs.  They have continued living their own lives as they did before yours crumbled around you and pulled them in for a time.

We don’t come together for life.

We come together and drift apart so there are spaces for new connection.

Healing begins to happen in those spaces.

The tide comes in and leaves some things struggling in the sand

What’s left when the tide returns is rejoined with the sea but it’s a new sea, not the sea that left you struggling in the sand.

—written by Melissa Murphy

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Acceptance

Upon rising each morning, I wander, I stop.  I sit.  I listen to the silence of the house.  I get up and I walk quietly from room to room and I look out each window.  I sit again, not moving, in the silence.  Am I hungry?  I’m not sure.  Thirsty?  Maybe.  Tired?  Usually. Tired enough to sleep? Well, I just got up.  “Just try,” I tell myself, “to sit a while longer, breathe deeply, clear your mind, listen to what your body is saying to you…you are actually okay in this moment.”

I hurt.  My body hurts; my stomach.  My heart aches.  My mind is restless.  I am sad. When I lay down at night to sleep, I hear sirens, far off in the distance.  I roll to my side and pull a pillow over my head.  I still hear them.  I travel in time and through space to that night, to that place where Dannica passed from her body.  Tears come.  I can’t breathe comfortably.  It hurts. Who met her?  Her grandmother?  My grandmother?  That was my job….to meet her from the other side when she passed from this one.  That was my job.

They wouldn’t let me near her.  I couldn’t tell her, “I’m here, baby, I’m here with you…. little mom is here, please, don’t leave me!”  Loving strangers got to do that.  Compassionate, caring strangers held her hand, let her know she wasn’t alone.  I was moments behind them…but they pulled me away.  They wouldn’t let me near.  It was my job to hold her hand when she passed…to comfort her from this world if I couldn’t be on the other side to comfort her home.  Going in the ambulance with a loved one;  apparently, it’s a figment of TV and movies.  I feel robbed.  She died with strangers.

I put the foot of the recliner up.  I turn my palms to the sky.  I breathe deeply.  I envision a brilliant crystal in my mind’s eye and I say to myself, “Clear…clear…clear…”  I remember when Dannica was upset or when she didn’t want to sleep or didn’t want me to leave her at bedtime we would agree to meet somewhere in our dreams.  Quite often this place was a big, beautiful field of purple flowers.  Lavender, or a meadow full of wild flowers that were all a deep and brilliant purple.  I told her that when she saw the field and the flowers in her dream to look for me and that I would do the same; look for her.  Then we could run and dance and play and fill each other’s hair with flowers and make crowns and necklaces, bracelets, rings, anklets and toe rings of flowers and be flower fairies.  We’d both fall asleep thinking of this beautiful place and the fun we’d have there, between the worlds.

At some point, sitting there, “clearing” and breathing, a calm comes over me.  I cannot feel my body at all unless I move it, so I don’t.  A warmth tingles through my brain and I am only aware of my mind.  In this calm and within this stillness I have come to understand what it is, this thing called acceptance.  Dannica’s death.  She will never again walk through that door.  She will never again sleep in her bed.  She will never again do her laundry.  She will never again laugh or make fun of me for being a dorky little mom.  She will never bake her famous chocolate chip cookies again or make her amazing peppermint fudge at Christmas.  She will never send me another text message full of silly emoticons or answer when I dial her number or hear the messages I leave telling her I hope she’s fine and that I love her and hope we can have a girl’s day soon.  I don’t accept any of those things.  I won’t ever accept any of those things.

Acceptance is the simple understanding that my heart will ache in a very specific way as long as it beats.  That is the only acceptance there is.  It will hurt forever.  It will.  You may be saying to yourself or wishing you could tell me right now, “It never goes away, but it does get easier.”  No.  It doesn’t.  And *that* is what I am learning to accept.

The present moment is made easier by “clearing” by breathing by working and being of service to others.  This loss, is not made easier by anything.  I accept that.  That is what I can accept.