I’ve been pretty quiet lately.
I keep sitting down to write and coming up blank on what to write about – and to be honest, feeling a little guilty.
Because, overall, things are going well. I feel pretty good most days. Happy. Purposeful. Challenged by new experiences. Grateful for my life.
I spend a fair amount of time with mothers in their first few years of grief and loss. When life and grief feel just plain hard and all-consuming and painful.
I remember those days – when just breathing felt like it took superhuman effort.
And sometimes I feel guilty because I’m not there anymore. I worry that I’ll start to lose the ability to connect with those people I most want to support in those dark hours of grief.
I feel guilty because I’m okay. In all reality I’m thriving.
Is life perfect? No.
Do I still deal with grief and aching could-have-beens on a frequent basis? Absolutely.
Do I still miss my children with every thump of my heartbeat? Unequivocally yes.
But the grief and the longing and the could-have-beens don’t flatten me the way they once did.
They slap into me, wash over me, flood through me and I fight to catch my breath. I feel them – feel all the messiness and pain and pummeling grief – and then my breath floods back. Some sadness might linger, tears might flow for a while, but I remain standing.
These arrows of grief have become normal, expected in their unexpectedness. Instead of throwing life into chaos, these waves of grief are simply part of my life now. They are as familiar and normal as brushing my teeth in the morning.
If in those early years, or even just a couple of years ago, you’d told me that I would be in this space where life is sweet with a side of bitter rather than bitter with occasional glimpses of sweetness, I would never have believed you. The grief was too big, too all-consuming. I would have said, “Life will never be okay again, not really.”
Yet here I am. Where life is generally good and I am happy. Ups and downs come and go and I remain standing and walking and laughing and living.
So, I’m struggling to write. Struggling to find ways to connect even though I’m in such a different place now.
Will I always be in this space of life being pretty good and things are okay? Maybe not. Chances are there will be more times in life when this grief will be messier and bigger and more overwhelming again.
But right now I’m okay.
I’m realizing it’s okay to be okay. It doesn’t mean I love my children any less. It doesn’t mean I don’t remember and have empathy for those who are still in the thick of the painful and all-consuming grief.
Maybe those in that painful and all-consuming grief won’t believe it’s possible that someday they too might reach this place of “life is ok-ness” or even “life is good and beautiful again-ness.”
Because it might also be that hearing that someone else has made it to okay, to where life is good and beautiful again will give some of those in that dark pit of grief a rare and precious thing – hope.
Hope that grief and pain and bitterness don’t have to be all there is forever.
Hope that there can be beauty and joy and sweetness even after such a life-altering and devastating loss as that of our beloved children.
Today I am okay. Today I am thriving.
I am a mother without her children to hold.
And I am okay again. At least for today.
Today I’ll let that be enough.
*Previously Published on Still Mothers.