Ghosts of Grief

Fall and Winter have always been difficult months for me to deal with–but October has been hell these last four years. There are so many reminders of lost loved ones and dwindled traditions. It’s been hard for me to cope, but I always get through it. Each of the last four years since my Grandmother’s passing have been different in their own way. Some years have been harder than others. I have felt more pain than I’d care to admit surrounding the loss of each of my parents. I have had to relive the trauma of losing a parent over and over. It hasn’t been easy, and it hasn’t gotten easier, but I have gotten stronger.

Grief is an unpredictable thing. It is not something that just completely goes it away. It’s true what they say: “time heals all wounds.” Because in time you find the strength to fight through the pain of grief. And although my wounds are 25, 15, and 4 years old, sometimes they feel fresh as the day my Mother, GrandDad, or G-Ma passed away. Sometimes it hurts, but because so much time has passed, it dulls the pain ever so slightly. I find things to keep me grounded. I celebrate my parents’ lives as they lived them when they were here with me. That’s my secret. That’s how I manage.

In the first year after my Grandmother passed, I was so focused on the fact that I was alone in the world that it consumed me. All I could feel or see was this extreme darkness. I was hopeless. I felt that there was no one there to check on me or make sure that I was good. At the time, my family wasn’t involved. The second year, I was a little stronger. I made Peace with my loneliness and chose to spend more time with friends. The third year, I spent self reflecting. And now, I’m writing again. More often and more deeply. I’m painting, I’ve discovered a knack for photography–I’m being creative again. I have found parts of myself that I lost four years ago to depression and grief.

When you lose someone close to you, you lose part of yourself, too. Part of how I identified in the world relied upon who my parents were and their position in my life. I was a daughter, a granddaughter, a student, a confidante, and caretaker. All of these things changed–especially when my Grandmother passed away. I had no idea what I would fill my off-days with. I had to find ways to fill the space where who I was depended on what my Grandmother needed. I had to find a healthy way to grieve without completely losing myself.

So I worked. I burned candles. I read books. I went to the gym. I cooked more. I invested time in friends and family. Anything I had to do in order to make it another day. So, here we are, in October again, and I am utilizing all of these outlets. Sleep has always been something I’ve struggled with and lately it seems to be more broken than I am used to. I’ve been having bizarre dreams about each of my parents that wake me up in the middle of the night. To be honest, some of them are nightmares, and some of them are so out of pocket that I can’t make sense of them. I keep telling myself that this is their way of checking on me–but I’d be lying if I said I’d rather just see their spirit manifest in front of me. Which honestly hasn’t happened in a while. When I was a kid, I saw my mother in my bedroom window often, and in college I used to smell my Grandfather’s aftershave or hear him call my name. Shortly after her death, I saw my Grandmother just once. It might sound crazy to you, but spirits are real and the energy they possess is powerful.

I don’t claim to be able to communicate with spirits, but I can feel their energy. As an Indigo Woman, I also have the ability to have premonitions–sometimes they come in dream form, other times they happen when I am awake and conscious. But for some reason, my Guardian Angels no longer feel the need to pop in on me. I guess that means I’m doing okay. Because any other time I physically felt their energy, I was far from being okay.

This October has been challenging but I’m pushing through. I haven’t had too many breakdowns. But I have my moments. And in those moments, the grief crawls up my chest and grasps my throat–I can’t breathe. And today especially, I feel like I can’t breathe. Today is four years of struggling and fighting. Four years of battling the worst kind of depression I have ever experienced. Four years of burning and rising from the ashes over and over. Four years of Flames. Grief is hard, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Just exhale.