Life After Loss: Five Years
To Anna, I will hold your memory in my heart forever and always. I love you.
So much happens in the span of five years.
For me, I lost friendships, found best friends, worked at four different jobs, graduated high school, started university, had my fair share of health issues, and had my heart broken. I built this amazing friendship with my mom, had coffee and Florida dates with my dad, got so much closer with my brother and even began to truly love and accept the relationship I have built with myself. I landed in the top ten percent of my university program two years in a row, started this blog and social media awareness page and found my passion for health and wellness. I lost my faith in God and then slowly, but surely, gained it back, stronger than it has ever been before.
In the past five years I have done so many things that my friend Anna will never have the chance to do.
Five years ago today I lost a best-friend. She died, suddenly at sixteen years old when the blood in her lungs clotted and cut off her oxygen. Writing these words still leaves a horrible taste in my mouth. I still remember the phone call so vividly. I remember exactly where I was standing and what I was drinking and what the weather outside was like. I remember the drive home and the trip to bed where I would stay for weeks, in the dark and silence. I remember going to her house that night and sitting in her living room in the dark because the ice storm had cut the power lines. I can remember her mom hugging me and crying, wishing for her to come back. I will always have this empty space in my heart where these memories dig so deeply.
In the past five years I have learned a lot about the impact of grief and I thought I would share this with you today. Whether you have lost someone very close to you, or know someone who has, there is some things to know about this life-long process.
Where there was once love, there will always be grief
I once read something that said, “if we love, we grieve.” This could not be more true. It is the most painfully beautiful thing in the world. Grief and love are one in the same. Grief is the most overwhelming, indescribable form of love that no one will ever truly understand until they go through it themselves. It is terrible and breathtaking all at once.
People are scared to speak about the person you lost
This was perhaps the most painful of lessons. People walk on egg shells trying not to upset you. They avoid the subject the best they can and say things like, “she’s in a better place” or “stay strong.” They change the subject and they avoid hanging out with you. I used to think it was because people didn’t care but as time goes on I start to see why people avoid the subject of death. Not only does it make them uncomfortable but it is the fact that they cannot fix it for you that makes it unbearable. Usually, when you talk to your friends and family about something it is because you are looking for their opinion or advice, but when it comes to death, you simply just want to speak the name aloud for fear that if you don’t, the world will forget and move on without them. That is exactly what happens. Five years has gone by and still people avoid the conversation.
Grief has no timeline, though people think it does
You typically get about three months. Sometimes less, sometimes slightly more. After that, people start to become annoyed that you still don’t want to leave the house or that you don’t feel like going out and having fun. People stop giving you the look of pity and instead replace their expressions with looks of irritability. The reality is, grief lasts forever. The painful thoughts come in waves and over time it gets easier to control how you react to them, but they are still vivid and very much present. The other day I found myself crying in my car out of nowhere. Not belly-aching, hysterical crying but just tears flowing down my face.
You move on, no matter how hard it may seem
To be clear, you move on but you never get over it. I have accepted that my life will go on even with the harsh reality that hers will not. I don’t know how many days I have left on this earth but I do know that I cannot spend them up in my bedroom wishing away the time. I must wake up in the morning and work and go to school. I must make my parents proud and keep up some kind of social life with the friends I still have (that I love and am forever grateful for). Sometimes no matter how hard it is to accept, understanding that the world keeps turning even when you don’t want it to is something you must learn to live with.
A part of you will always be empty
A part of you will always be sad. You may even be a positive, light-hearted person, but waves of sadness will come your way no matter how long the person you love has been gone. Grief is an empty vessel you cannot fill. You may feel overwhelming amounts of guilt, you may go over the situation a million times in your head imagining that you could have saved your loved one if you had done something differently. You will think about the moments before their passing and wonder if they were scared or if they knew what was about to happen. The questions will always be unanswered and therefore you will always feel that emptiness inside. This is okay.
Five years later and I still feel the pain of your absence. I still think about what life would be like if you were able to stay. I feel an emptiness in my heart when anyone mentions the date, December 20th. I still get teary eyed when I look at your pictures or think about your mom and brother. When I see a beautiful, pink sunrise or sunset I think of you and how your positive, lovely soul will forever live on through me. There is so much I wish I could have said to you before you left, but mostly I hope you knew how much I loved you. I will always remember you.
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