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VM Voices: The In-Between Grief

VM Voices: The In-Between Grief

Guest post by Katie Jameson

There is a strange moment of time within the calendar year, where no matter how hard you have worked, no matter how busy you have kept yourself in order to stay afloat, a stillness settles like a skiff of snow, and we find ourselves sitting for the first time in months.

Those few days after Christmas and before New Years Day, bookended by celebrations, but filled with stillness, can be hard – I know that personally I keep my hands busy and my mind working all year long, all so the heartache deep inside stays where it can be managed – beneath the surface. Perhaps this rings true for you this year as well, perhaps you worked harder than ever before in the last 12 months, and perhaps, you find these last days of the year unsettlingly slow.

No matter what the changes are that have occurred in the past 12 months, there can be no doubt that you are grappling with the loss of something. It might be normalcy, or routine. It might be the loss of a job, or a friendship. And possibly, the loss of a loved one.

Does the slowness of these few remaining days give you space to feel those losses more than ever?  Does that space make you uncomfortable?

Yes. Me too.

This year, we all grieve, and we will all do that in very different ways, for very different losses. Loss of ceremony, loss of security, loss of physical connection, and always, the loss of loved ones.

There has been much conversation the last several months around the preparation of coping, around the knowing, that things have been hard and life has felt unsettling. For the most part those conversations end with the phrasing “it’s ok to feel sad”, and while this sentiment is absolutely true, it does very little to actually help any hearts grapple with a year of wild emotions.

It’s very true that feeling sad and feeling upset at the end of a very hard year is normal, and most certainly at the end of a year that has challenged us all in so many ways, but what can we do to settle with that? What can we do collectively, to find the strength to look our losses in the eye, and find rest? People are wandering, unsure of what is ok and what isn’t, confused by the highs felt one minute, and the incredible lows felt the next.

My friends, this is grief.

For anyone who is confused by their emotions, or lack or ability to focus, or need to organize junk drawers + shoes one day and need to sleep the next, let me put your mind at ease and softly say, you are grieving. Sure, it feels weird, and most likely makes no sense at all, but that in itself is absolutely normal, because your ability to channel your grief this year has been altered in the most dramatic way. Like a good old fashioned plot twist, you’ve met your grief in a year where leaning on loved ones is literally not allowed.

We are weary, we are all so incredibly tired, and it isn’t completely grief that drains us, but obligations and commitments wrapped in strange times and uncertainty. We want to rest; we want to settle and allow our breath to exhale in a gust of stillness. We want to lean in, push up against another person who might be feeling a semblance of the same. Any yet, that too has been taken from us; the luxury of leaning on each other physically. There is an aspect of mending that is brought on by physical touch; hugging tightly, holding someone, clasping hands and leaning on a shoulder for support. When grief gets stuck in your bones, the act of pressure from a loved one sooths your soul, and that grief gets reminded to move. There could not be a harder way to experience loss, than alone, and yet here we are, a world of broken hearts, not touching.

And while the intimate nature of how we are grieving right now is not our choice, I wonder if it’s possible that we will end this month with the surprising realization that support comes in many different shapes and sizes, sometimes from near and most certainly, from a far. How strange that instead of letting grief consume us with yet another aspect of loss, we have found new and beautiful approaches to the ways we can love each other.

The way we will heal this year will take on a new strategy, instead of connecting in person, we will bridge the gaps of our loss through the collective strength of everyone just out of arms reach.  My hope, is that we can begin to heal with the small things around us; letters, voice mails, notes left on door steps and grand gestures made up of tiny details. Perhaps we will go back to the basics of kindness with warm deliveries of food, phone calls that last longer than minutes, singing at doorsteps. And maybe, the opportunity of new traditions will take root; late night walks with friends across the street, writing notes to family we can’t be with, starting meals with memories.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the mending from our losses this year, took root in new found beginnings.

The end of this year is a difficult season for us all, and this strange week of in-between always highlights our desire to reflect, to dig past our comforts and look for sure paths of growth for the new year ahead. So many of us are teetering on the invisible edge of a ‘new us’, completely unsure of how to step forward, while still gathering up pieces of our broken hearts. You may think it’s impossible, to keep going, when the edges of you don’t fit the way they used to.

What’s incredible, is that almost every person you pass on the street is feeling the same, they too are wondering how they can possibly go on and yet, go on, they do.  The commonality of this year will be naming our losses, and deciding how to move forward with them.  

Will we take kindness with us on our journey, knowing now what deep sadness feels like?

Will we take empathy forward with us, knowing now what being misunderstood truly looks like?

The lessons we have learned this year have been tremendous, they have come with costs, and for some, they have come with deep loss. In these last few days before this wild year ends, I hope we can make space for peering back down our respective paths, to see the journey through our newfound glasses of perspective.

Yes, there may be more hard days ahead, the heaviness of grief mixed with joy this year is new for you, and it will take courage to carry it into a new one. Any change is hard, but the kind of change that emerges through grief is a wrecking ball that brings about the deepest transformation. This weight we sit with, this sense of loss of everything that was certain and solid, in due time will bring forth a re-shaping of mind and spirit. In a way, I feel as though I am finally drifting on the opposite side of the canyon from almost everyone I know. I am, for once, the one who is sure of her path. I am growing through my grief, I am allowing it shape the way I move through and experience life, and there is so much beauty in that.

There is something ahead of you that I can’t explain, I can only plant a seed and let you know it’s coming, but there is peace ahead of you, I promise.

Katie Jameson talks about about real life and hard things including grief, loss and motherhood on her website and Instagram feed. She also creates and sells grieving gifts meant to help nurture broken hearts.

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