A friend of mine passed away last Friday. I have not known her long but that does not negate the depth of the connection I felt to her. Vicky Mitchell was, IS, a beautiful soul full of joy, light, and compassion and I knew this new friendship was a great opportunity. I knew there was much to learn from her. Mistakenly, I assumed I had all the time in the world to do it...
I am no stranger to tragedy and I am no stranger to grief and I am certainly no stranger to self-judgment... but this trifecta of things hit me rather hard this week. The news of Vicky's passing hit me kind of like a truck on Monday. I was taken aback. Immediately it felt as tough a light had left the world and I collapsed in tears that I wasn't really sure I was allowed to be having with the brevity of our friendship. As quickly as I thought it, I heard the echo of her laughter whispering that I was wrong, that the light was "flooding" the world... and it would continue to flow through all those who remain. I considered that her impact was not ending... I knew that it wasn't... and I smiled. I wanted to stay in that thought... in that peaceful realization for awhile, but the demands of life would not let me.
There were cub scout meetings to run, and business responsibilities to see to, and children to feed and bathe and take to dance class and well.. you know everything else... I never finished my crying. It came in spurts a few times throughout the day, but I kept pushing it aside and jumping into the next thing. It's what I do. I've lost a lot of people in my life and it is what I have always done. Grief is a difficult emotion. It hits us in different ways and at different strengths and it honestly does not matter how long you may have known someone or how close you may have been. Sometimes we grieve for people we didn't know... sometimes we grieve in solidarity with those who did know them, and that can be equally devastating. Sometimes we grieve a loss of possibilities just as deeply as we would grieve a loss of an established role in our lives.
Grief comes how it wants to, as it wants to, and we do not need to logically judge it when it does. It isn't an emotion that one can easily 'think' their way out of. It needs to be waded through... gingerly... tenderly... and with a certain degree of surrender. Grief calls us to recognize the temporal nature of life. It calls us to recognize that there are things we cannot control and to reassess that which we can without judging ourselves for that which we didn't. I cannot bring Vicky back. But I can put a bit more energy into the connections that I have right now. I cannot go back and have the conversations that I wanted to have with her, but did not take the time to have assuming that time was unlimited. I can prioritize conversations and connections more in my life right now. That may or may not be a lesson I would have learned from interacting with Vicky, but knowing Vicky, I think she would approve of it.
I spent 3 days not really allowing myself to feel this grief, not wanting to go back to an emotion I have struggled through so many times in my life, and not quite feeling like I was entitled to have it when there were others whom I knew were hurting more at the loss of a more established connection. Yesterday, I was tired. My eyes were heavy and my body ached. I still had not allowed myself that open cry. In my experience to navigate grief successfully we must find a place of acceptance and we must also find some type of growth or lesson that allows us to find some purpose in the experience of it, but first... first, we must allow ourselves to feel the loss and acknowledge the pain. It often takes allowing the emotion to move through us, before we can begin to move through it. In the past I buried a particular grief for years that kept showing up in my life in ways I would have never connected and prevented me from growing forward until it was released.
Get familiar with your grief. Know it. Express it. Only then can we really discover what we can do with it... how we can move forward in a way that really honors the experience and the touch of those lost in our lives. Be patient in the process. I know there are steps, but grief is not linear. You will likely come back to the same place again and again. And that is okay. There is nothing wrong with that. Move through at your own pace and give yourself the space to acknowledge all that is lost and all that is gained. Give yourself the space to find gratitude and the space to recognize the effects of the loss itself and how that ripple effects all those who are touched by it. We touch each other through this lifetime, planting seeds that have the potential to grow into great change; but we also touch each other through our deaths, planting seeds of equal potential and watering those that were planted before. Death propels our ripple; it extends our touch. I am surrendering now to allow Vicky's ripple to move through me.
I had a podcast interview yesterday (the link is on the homepage) that I had completely forgotten about until reminded after an emotional Memorial the night before. I had an early morning and planned to prepare for it on my lunch break yesterday afternoon. But after walking around with tired eyes and aching shoulders all morning, I sat down to prepare and I felt all of the holding in catch up with me. I allowed myself to own my grief, and I cried. I cried and as I did I felt myself accept my own grieving process without judgment and I felt a great expanse that stretched within my heart. I let go of all the expectations I had had of what this woman was going to be in my life, and instead opened myself to what I can learn from her right now with the interactions we had had and what I can do with it. And as I did this, I came to the realization that I need to trust myself. I thought of all the things that I admired in this woman and believed I could learn from her, and I realized that they are present in me now. I believed she would tell me to trust myself and make more room for joy, intuition, and connection. I cried until I was done crying and afterward felt more complete. I went back to my day and had some very compelling and insightful conversations about all the things I had been contemplating but not sharing lately. I even gave some hugs. I deepened a connection, I did some Qigong, and then I showed up for my interview, and I had fun with it. I trusted myself. And I think that Vicky would be proud. Thank you, Vicky, for continuing to shine.
I will show up in the world a little brighter and a little deeper now... I will open and allow that light to flow through me.