It has been a year. In the past 2 months, I’ve lost a child, a mother-in-law, and my cat. The grief has been overwhelming; enough that sometimes I felt like I was going to explode out of my body with sorrow. To add to that, I’ve also had my car broken into, and fell down while running, lightly spraining my wrist, and tearing up my knees, shins, hands, and arms.
Since this is a blog mainly concerned with how to find equilibrium in all of life’s chaos, I want to talk a little about what it’s like when your life goes to shit. It’s hard. It’s really hard.
Finding your ground when your emotional landscape is shifting beneath your feet in big and catastrophic ways is vital. It’s also not easy.
Making the decision to put our cat down was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. It was the right thing, certainly, but it gutted me. Afterwards, I kept asking, “What do I do now? How do I go on?” How do you find your way through all the loss and grief?
The only answer I could come up with when I couldn’t really respond to anything was simply to observe. It’s unusual for me not to want to talk about things. I’m someone whose first impulse to any emotional event is to want to communicate about it, either through talking or writing. But since I couldn’t think of a thing to say in the face of loss, I decided to just sit and watch.
When it felt like my world fell apart, the earth kept on moving. People kept talking and living and eating and walking around, doing people things. The sunsets were amazing, ripe with color. My garden continued to grow. Watching all that gave me peace. It helped me stay present, when I really just wanted to give up and tune out.
Being present helped me see outside the loss. I could see how much my family loves me, how much my friends care about me, the variegated ribbons of color in the sunset, the fog blanketing the hills. It also allowed me to experience gratitude for the parts of my life that are still going well—my relationships, my work, my spiritual journey, the big stuff.
You’ve heard this before, but honestly, there is no other way. Any escape is a temporary respite; the grief will return, usually bigger for having suppressed it. Any avenue of escape I considered (more to come on that) I knew was a fleeting attempt to control the uncontrollable, to not feel the tremendous sense of loss, pain, sadness, and overwhelm. The only answer was to stay present, and stay true to myself.
I hope if you’re going through a loss that you can find peace in being present. Sometimes it takes looking up and thinking, “Those are some dumb clouds. Look how they keep floating across the sky. Not a care in the world. Assholes.”
Oh life. It just keeps keepin’ on, with all of us with it. Be grateful for the one life you have and the people you love. And find your own asshole clouds.