My Ode to Grief
It was 4:55 am.
I woke up mid-sleep, unusually early... This never happens.
I'm met with a tidal wave of emotion. Fuck.
The intense and heartbreaking kind.
My chest is heavy and my heart physically hurts.
I've felt this before.
This is familiar territory.
I start sobbing silently into my pillow.
The tears are uncontrollable.
The tidal wave continues to lap the shore, as the emotional pain causes physical pain, and the tears softly glisten down my face.
I don't want to feel this. I don't want to be here.
I don't want to fucking cry, again.
But it's here and it does not allow for ignorance, it does not allow you to move away or redirect your focus.
T wakes up to the mattress moving as my body shudders with emotion.
I softly reassure him "I am okay".
Is it the full moon?
Is it PMS?
No, it's just one of those days.
He brings me into his chest.
I lay there sobbing.
We've been here before many a time in the last five years of our relationship.
The tears are streaming down my cheeks and into the blanket.
They're relentless, and I can't fucking stop them.
They're not going away until I release every last drop - of pain, sadness, longing.
It's now 6:15 am, and I gently fall back into a slumber, knowing I have to be up soon to prepare for a photography job.
In what feels like a moment, I'm awake again to my alarm, it's now 7:20 am.
I don't want to move, I don't want to get up.
My breaths are short as if to not to disturb the current state of calm.
"Hang in there".
My eyes are puffy, and I know I need to get my shit together for today.
There's no hiding away, there's no 'day off'.
I must get up and I must continue to show up.
- Me. Tuesday, 1st May 2018.
Nine long years of journeying through the dark land of grief and still, in these moments of extreme intensity, it feels like I'm back to day one.
It's fucked. And in the nine years, I've not found a more accurate word - because there is nothing that can explain this level of sorrow.
It's scary. It's daunting. It's fucking uncomfortable.
I managed to move through my day, wearing a smile when called to - blocking the grief for the hours required, before returning home where I could sit quietly amidst the noise of my emotions.
I'm in silence yet my mind is processing at a dizzying and deafening speed.
I'm frustrated that I don't feel like my usual bubbly self.
I'm angry that I have to once again dive into this battle of sadness.
I'm confused that I'm feeling these emotions the day before my Mum's anniversary. Why today?
I'm lethargic; I'm exhausted.
I'm also stressed because I know the amount of shit that requires my attention before we go on holiday, but I'm on empty - I have nothing left to give.
I don't have the energy.
The creativity is gone.
The self-doubt starts creeping in.
"What the FUCK am I actually doing with my life".
I feel like screaming and crying, but I remain quiet and still.
I call off the staring contest at the computer, where I'm trying to keep it fucking together to get my work done.
It's just not happening, not today.
And that is okay.
I've been here more times than I can count throughout the last nine years.
Except, it has become less and less - which has created a beautiful space for an abundance of joy, love, laughter...
My last 'day' was almost ten months ago.
It's a celebration, in a way, because this is the longest period I've survived without one of 'those days'.
Funnily enough, it's also been the most significant ten months of my life too.
Kickstarting my biz, exhibiting my work, selling my work, booking clients, making incredible connections and friendships online, quitting my 9-5 job and diving full time into my biz.
In those ten months, there were some fucking tough times and challenging conditions - like not nourishing my body, not sleeping...
But to my surprise, I made it through.
I guess I didn't just make it through, I've fucking revelled in the happiness, sparkling and shining my light on/in/with the world.
Except for today, my light is flickering; it's faint, it's dim.
Being here again, both yesterday, and today on the anniversary of my Mum's death - I know that I will get through this.
I'm letting this affirmation honour the countless times I've fallen and gotten up in the face of grief.
My experience reminds me that this stark contrast I'm experiencing will lead to an abundance of magic, it's just hiding around the corner momentarily, pushing me to rediscover it.
Deep within my being, I know too that the darkness that I feel entrapped by, will release me into a light that is so fucking BRIGHT, it's blinding.
Grief demands you to feel - deeply, to extremes.
Grief captures you with a firm hold - one that is only released when you have felt through it - into the dark, dusty, cold and alone corners of your emotions.
Grief is the catalyst to tumultuous and unexpected feelings and reactions - not limited to sadness and heartache.
Grief warps your sense of self.
Grief strips you of your confidence.
Grief exposes you, in the rawest and confronting way
Grief feels lonely, at times.
Grief explodes your heart, your world and parts of yourself in tiny shards of brokenness.
Grief induces insurmountable fear and overwhelm.
Grief demands your attention; it doesn't reward hiding, it doesn't acknowledge non-confrontation of feelings.
Grief summons the most uncomfortable emotions, delivering them in level 10 difficulty.
Grief triggers the smallest sensitivities - from advertisements (like Mothers day) to certain themes (like suicide in a tv show), to petty rudeness and disregard for others (like morning coffee shop bullshit I witnessed this morning - I was enraged).
Grief also makes you lean into its complexity, almost with child-like curiosity. It encourages exploration and rewards you with thought-provoking and mind-altering discovery. It is surprising, in both the exhilarating and dreadfully unwanted ways.
Beyond the depths and darkness, grief is an extraordinarily beautiful space of rebirth, rebuilding, like the lush greenery that grows after a bushfire has ravished the land.
Grief allows you to really and truly feel the magic of life and the blessing that we're experiencing, in real time.
Grief makes you love, oh-so fiercely.
Grief creates strength.
Grief builds resilience.
Grief provides clarity.
Grief enhances empathy.
Grief inspires vision and passion.
Grief nudges you to discover your purpose.
Grief releases judgement.
Grief asks you to shed what/who no longer serves you.
Grief fires the inspiration and motivation to do/be/create more.
Grief is a cleansing release that doesn't wash over you but instead through you.
Grief is a form of healing.
As grief transforms...
Like the wax and wane of the moon...
The rise and fall of the tides...
The changing of the seasons, from coldness to warmth...
The ebb and flow of life's chapters...
And as you transform too...
You're gifted with a vision of life that is inexplicably incredible.
It may be intermittent glimpses at first, but you see life through a majestic lens, witnessing and appreciating the magic that is ever so present.
To discover the magic, I must warn you that there is no healthy way to avoid grief - the longer you do, the stronger it gets (trust me). It will continue to show up until you give it the space and time that it requires to heal you. I promise you that there is HOPE, even if it's only fragments of faith. Cling to the hope and rely on the faith within your heart, soul and being, it's there, and it will guide you to safety, to peace and to healing.
I also firmly believe that you owe it to yourself, your life and your loved one(s) to journey through the darkness, the fear, the pain and the sorrow. While this may feel like all you know in the early days, and it feels like you're trapped in an eternal pit of sadness. It does not last!
It will shape you, but you have the choice not to let it define you.
Your loved ones are with you, in spirit, cheering you on and supporting you infinitely.
The loss of my Mum may be the catalyst for this experience in my life. However, it is also the inspiration behind everything that I do. I am absolute in my resolve to give energy and to honour her legacy with all the power, strength and courage I can muster.
This has not, and will not break me; it merely continues to strengthen me.
I allow this journey to empower me, to enable me to serve the lives I touch, yet I will not ever let it define me.
I am on a motherfucking mission to shine a light on this taboo topic of grief, and where I can, on issues surrounding mental wellness.
Because I have survived, even in the times I thought I couldn't. And I sadly know that I am not alone in this fight - every damn human on this planet has or will face periods of grief in their life. It is unavoidable. However, I am a firm believer (perhaps an example) that it does not have to control your life or your world. You control IT and use it as your energy to fuel you...
If you have or are experiencing similar feelings, please go gently and give yourself a chance to process - in your own time.
In honour of my Mum and all the brave souls we've lost to suicide - I encourage you to ask further support, beyond loved ones. There is no shame in seeking a little extra TLC, especially if you're in the midst of a challenging battle like this.
Lifeline: 13 11 14
Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636
And now as the afternoon glow starts to shine in the apartment as I type this, and the emotions settle from the last two days of my heart aching and longing for my sweet Mum.
The full moon has passed.
And I now welcome my cycle.
I'm wading through the emotional immersion.
I'm breaking through my cocoon of grief.
I'm appreciating the time I've spent connecting and healing with my emotions.
I'm feeling the anticipation of the blossom, soon to follow.
From the dark and into the glittering light...
- Me. Wednesday 2nd May 2018
You are loved.
You are supported.
You are not alone.
I am with you.
My ode to grief, in honour of my Mum.