Seven years since a sweet boy I loved took his own life and turned mine (and so many others who loved him) upside down in the process.
Seven years since I fell to my knees in the middle of the night hearing the news, immediately consumed by a grief so intense it physically hurt to be alive.
Seven years since everything I believed to be true about myself and the world was shattered in a single moment, and my sense of security evaporated.
Seven years since everything I thought I was building and believed I’d become came to a screeching halt and faded into a distance as the PTSD consumed me.
I wasn’t going to write a post this year.
I wasn’t going to share anything because I’ve been practicing holding more close to my heart. But I’m reminded every year when my grief resurfaces just how isolating it is, how no one understands these experiences except other grieving souls.
And there are a lot of grieving souls in our world these days.
A lot of broken hearts and shattered homes with a mess of uncertainty and impending loss still hanging thick in the air and woven into every single day.
So, I decided to write. Because I know how easy it is to feel dismissed and invalidated in our grief. I know that everyone else wants us to be “normal” again, especially during holiday festivities. But there’s no “normal again.”
Our relationship with ourselves, our lives, the world, and everything in between is forever altered. Some things we reclaim in time, but there’s so much that we don’t. And there’s no timeline for any of it. None whatsoever.
Seven years since grief became a forever friend.
Seven years since December’s twinkly lights became a lifetime reminder that a sweet boy I loved took his own life and turned mine upside down in the process.
Seven years of processing the grief and pain and piecing myself back together.
So much of what I’ve healed in myself and my life this year is directly tied to how his death affected me, as well as all the hardship and struggle that followed as a result.
Loss steals us from ourselves in ways we can’t see until enough time begins to pass. Seven years later and I’m still excavating the guilt, anger, confusion, and trauma from my cells and nervous system. I’m still brought to my knees or raging at the night sky when I least expect it. I’m still heartbroken beyond belief.
And the people around us who aren’t grieving don’t understand why it’s still so challenging and hard. Sometimes they don’t even believe it’s real.
But it’s the most real thing we can experience. The broken parts of our heart that never fully mend and the empty spaces in our lives are very, very real.
Seven years and I’m certain I’ll never stop counting the passage of time even if I wanted to because my body always seems to remember every year.
Seven years and I still have days where I struggle to grasp the immensity of what happened and everything that resulted in the aftermath of his death.
Seven years and I don’t know if the imprint it left will ever become a faint memory.
If you’re grieving this December—whether the loss was recent or many years ago but feels like yesterday—you’re in my heart.
It may always be hard and gutting. And it never goes away; I’m sorry to say. We just learn how to carry it differently. We learn to live without the ones we love even if a piece of us died along with them. Even if life never looks the same again.
There’s no right timeline for healing from loss.
No right path or approach or quick fix to stop the pain.
It will be what it will be until one day it feels a little lighter. And it will feel lighter and easier to carry until those random days when it doesn’t. It’s messy and confusing and challenging beyond belief. You’re not doing it wrong if you’re still grieving however many years after your loss, and you’re not doing it wrong if you feel a little crazy and disconnected from your life in the early days.
You’re right where you’re supposed to be… and that sucks.
Let yourself feel what you feel all the way through. The anger and heartbreak and confusing waves of gratitude and love. Grief may be the messiest human experience we can have, but it’s a sign that we loved and lived and lost in this life.
Feel your grief, friends.
Let yourself fall apart when you need.
Honor what’s changed in you.
Trust yourself to do what feels right in your heart.
Take the time and space you need.
You’re not alone.