At 7:47 am this morning, my phone signalled that I had a text. I was still asleep and not quite sure I was ready to wake up. I almost ignored it. However, at the second beckoning, I reached for the phone and read, “if you get up and get dressed there is a big seal on the beach where Jake and Ella play.”
My husband knows I get very excited when I’m afforded the opportunity to be close to sea creatures. How close depends on how safe I’ll be. Nonetheless, I usually want to give it a go.
Yesterday was the first day of spring here. I could tell today was going to be a cracker of a day because sunlight was streaming through my window and beaconing me to accept his invitation.
I dressed quickly, grabbed my camera and made my way across the street to the beach where my grandchildren love to play when they visit.
As I approached the shoreline, it was like the sea and it’s dwellers were dancing with joy electrified at the birth of springtime. It was amazing! I wondered what I had missed by sleeping away morning hours as I often do.
The air was crisp, the cerulean sky was energizing and my heart was pounding with excitement. This was going to be a good day.
As I turned the corner, sure enough, there was a huge seal lying on the beach. The sun was casting a glare but I took a photo anyway. It didn’t matter.
I thought, “it’s not celebrating the day like every other creature I’ve seen. It must be sunbathing”. The closer I got, it didn’t move, didn’t scurry away as I expected. It was still, covered in sand, motionless. My excitement turned to worry. I wondered if it was alright.
I got as close as I dare, sat snapping photos in every direction waiting for it to make a move because of my presence. But nothing.
I called out to it, it ignored me.
After a while, a local who was walking his dog came inquiring if it was alive. I affirmed that it was but not moving. He explained that she (oh, “it” is a “she”) had been here yesterday with her new born pup but the pup died.
Died? She lost her baby? Yesterday?
Suddenly, my trip to the beach this morning was bitter sweet. I was in the presence of a mourner.
I sat with her for over an hour talking to her about what I imagined she must be feeling. For my heart was familiar with the pain of grief.
Shock. Fear. Loneliness. Anger. Exhaustion. Emptiness. Sadness.
She lifted her head and looked at me. Her eyes were sad and I am sure that her mouth had formed a frown. Maybe I’m crazy, but I sensed her broken heart. I think she sensed I was offering understanding.
I continued to talk to her.
She stretched her neck, opened her mouth and bellowed a deep moan.
“I know, it hurts. Loosing something we love, hurts. And it’s heart wrenching. I know.”
At that, she lay back down, motionless.
From that moment, my heart was faced with looking at it’s own experience of grief.
Many years have passed since the day I was awakened to the experience of grief but I’ve learned that grief has no expiration date. The sting is not as shocking but it never ceases to amaze me how unexpectedly it knocks at my heart’s door.
I lost my fiancé in a car accident caused by a drunken driver when I was 22 years old. I knew nothing of death. I did not know how to grieve. In fact, I felt completely lost.
I promise, I will share my story with you. After all, it is part of my journey to finding emotional healing. But not today.
Today, I want to share a few important lessons I learned about grief.
1. The shock hits like a lightening bolt. Prepared or not (and I categorically was not prepared), it’s a sucker punch to the heart.
2. Bereavement is like a waterfall. At the beginning, it seemed I had been plummeted to the pool below, tossed and tumbled in the fury of the flow. I felt powerless and numb. I was desperately hoping that I was moments from waking from a nightmare.
3. Death and grief make people uncomfortable. There were awkward encounters.
4. People offer support. It was valuable even when I didn’t know how to accept it.
5. People tell you things that are not true about grief. They mean well. It’s important to be honest with them when what they say doesn’t help. You can help take the pressure off of them by assuring them that just being there is more than enough.
6. The world doesn’t stop. It’s hard for others to understand that when their life resumed to a state normalcy yours didn’t.
7. Normal feels completely foreign. You are forever changed. Grief is not only about mourning what you lost but the process of discovering a new normal.
8. Grief does not submit itself to a time limit. Times does not heal all wounds. Your response to grief will change over time and the intensity of the emotions will decrease.
9. There are grief triggers everywhere. Don’t panic. After 32 years, today, when grief was triggered by a saddened seal, my thoughts revisited the pain and my heart reached out in my blog hoping to help a hurting heart.
10. When I was ready to live my life again, it did not mean I was disloyal to the one I lost. Although my life was forever changed; living, loving and pursuing happiness was proof that the love he left imprinted on my heart made me stronger, better, and bolder. I allowed his legacy to be about embracing life rather than the devastation of loss.
💖now that you are gone, my heart is broken. because you once were here, it is completely filled with love.💖-unknown
Anyone who has lost a loved one knows you don’t “recover”. Instead, you learn to incorporate the absence and memories into your life and channel your emotional energy into others, and eventually, your grief will walk beside you instead of consuming you” -unknown
Finally, if you are grieving, listen to your heart. Ask for help when you need it. Talk about your loved one when you need to (you will have a trusted friend who will know that bringing up the subject is a healthy thing to do). Feel. Cry. Love. Remember. Live. Hug…hug those you love…ALOT.
Reader, if you have been in the presence of a mourner and feel they may find some comfort in what you are reading, please share this post. However, please make it clear that they should read it when they and their heart are ready.
Sending my love and a great BIG HUG!