I never knew it was going to be like this. I never knew that my emotions, wants, and needs to drastically change from one moment to the next.
I did not realize how lonely grief could be. I knew that it could be painful and sad. I knew that it would challenge me to not turn to food for comfort. But I did not realize the loneliness.
It is not that I am completely alone, and it is certainly not that I am the only one grieving. All of us are hurting. It's just that I am not living side by side with my mom or my siblings every day. Plus, grief is personal. We're all feeling different things, at different times. So even though I am not "alone", I am lonely. And I know I will not find a person on this earth who is feeling exactly the same way that I am.
No one is telling me to "move on" or "get over it". But LIFE is telling me to move on and get over it. I HAVE to keep going. That's where it gets difficult and frustrating- that there is no pause. I sometimes feel as though I am acting in a movie, pretending as though everything is just fine. Don't get me wrong, I absolutely love my job and that has not changed. But having to be "on" all the time, when I don't want to be, is exhausting. And it's not just at work. It's at the grocery store, the gym, church. I feel like people are looking to me to be okay, and I hate putting people in awkward situations, so I try to just put a smile on, muster up all my positive energy, and forge through.
Everything I've read says to not be afraid to ask for help. But I hate shedding the burden of my grief onto others. It feels super awkward to text my friends and say "hey, I'm super lonely! fyi!". Especially when my friends are going through their own challenges. It also feels weird to say to a coworker "I'm having a rough day today, I may not be my best". I know that those are things I CAN say, I just don't feel like I should.
And so I start to look for ways to help to heal. I listen to music and podcasts, I go to the gym, I try to eat healthy (have to work on that a bit). I make jokes, I write thank you cards, I look for activities like yoga and prayer services that might quiet my mind. I spend time with my husband. I call my mom. I talk out loud to my dad, knowing that he can hear me. But still, I cry. I hurt. And then, it repeats.
I don't think there will be any one single thing that heals me, and I need to remember that. I think it might get easier, but with hard days mixed in. There will be no magic potion or no spectacular yoga class that will suddenly bring clarity and healing and take away the sadness.
Instead, I will continue on the tightrope. I will dip here and there, I will find highs and I will have lows.
And I will know that when I do fall, there will be people down below to catch me, and to get me back up on the tightrope. It may not be the same people every time. It may not even be the people I would expect it to be. But there are people there, because I am not alone. I feel lonely, but I am not alone.
And I have hope.