Survival in grief, even eventually building a new life alongside grief,
comes with the willingness to bear witness, both to yourself and to the
others who find themselves inside this life they didn’t see coming.
Together, we create real hope for ourselves,
and for one another. We need each other to survive.
It's been ten years since Matthew died. A decade. In the beginning, I used to wish that I could fast forward through those painful weeks and months of early grief. The pain seemed too unbearable and massive to survive. Instinctively I knew it wouldn't always be so difficult to bear, so why couldn't I just jump over it and get to a place where it wasn't quite so heavy. Of course, I also knew that the only way through grief was to trudge through it, one day at a time. And now here we are ten years later. How can that be? But today, on the day when the magnitude of our loss always weighs us down and is most apparent, this year feels even heavier. And I think it's not just for me and my family, but for many of us. Our whole world feels heavy.
We are in the midst of a global pandemic, a vicious election, a world where climate change feels more threatening than ever and a time when the layers of systemic racism that exist are being peeled back and fully exposed. Anxiety and grief are gripping us collectively, and the future seems dim. It's daunting.
When the pandemic crept into our lives in the spring of 2020, the world as we knew it stopped and we shuttered ourselves in. The feelings I experienced in the early days of the pandemic reminded me of the same feelings we had in the early days of our loss of Matthew. The lives we once led and took for granted were upended and our world came to a stop. Feelings of isolation and fear set in. The difference in the spring, compared to when Matthew died, was that this was a collective grief that we all were experiencing for losses that were just beginning to set in.
Now we are seven plus months into it, without an end in sight. Our grief seems open-ended, even though we know it will end (the election and the pandemic, that is). But the immediate future that awaits us is a winter with shorter, colder days, and the natural world retreating into dormancy. We, too, will retreat indoors and inward, and we wonder where we can find some light during these times.
Over 222,000 Americans have died of COVID since this started, and 1.13 million in the world. These are staggering numbers, and our sadness is amplified worldwide. We also know that many more deaths await us in the future. People have died away from their loved ones, and the thought of them being alone and scared haunts us. We can't help but think of our own mortality.
We all long for the days when we can gather with our family and friends
the way we used to. We yearn for a time where we can greet one another with a hug,
and sit in a restaurant with the normal background noise of
glasses tinkling and the hum of other people's conversations. We dream of a time
when we can have friends over for an evening of food and drink and
conversation, and when we don't have to wear masks to go grocery
shopping, or schedule multiple Zoom meetings a day. And we pine for the day we can hop on a plane and go on a vacation. We wish we could fast forward through this winter, but we can't. We will have to trudge through it, one day at a time.
I admit, this winter is daunting to me. But along the way, we have to take care of ourselves and our loved ones as best we can. We have to be there for one another and remember that we are all in this together. We may have to force ourselves to take walks outside in weather that we'd prefer to avoid. But we know we always feel better being outside in nature. That's the way through the next few months. When our family lost Matthew, our community held us up, and now we have to all hold each other up. It's about love for one another. It's what we as humans do best, and we need each other now more than ever. My wish is that we emerge from this time with new hopes and dreams and
ways to make meaning in our lives and the world a better place. And I hope we will be able to engage with
each other in meaningful ways, and interact more positively with our
changing world, and learn that we need each other. It's about love, it's always about love.