On the other hand, after almost four years, I’m no longer startled by happiness, nor do I feel the guilt I initially felt the first few times I recognized it. I’m more aware of happiness, joy, and laughter when they come, though they are much rarer than they once were and I’ve had to work hard to let them in. In an important way, that makes them all the more special.
Perhaps this is part of the experience of gratitude that Sheryl attributes to her husband’s death. “Real gratitude,” she writes, “for the things I took for granted before – like life. As heartbroken as I am, I look at my children each day and rejoice that they are alive. I appreciate every smile, every hug. I no longer take each day for granted.”
I have no idea how many days I have left, but one thing I learned from Emma’s death is that each day is special. To take it one step further, so much of what I’ve learned from mourning is about living, and living the right way, and living in a way that brings honor to you and the people you love.
Strength with Time
I “lean into” each day now. Some days it’s giving into the tears, embracing the grief that can still stagger me, learning new kinds of sadness over the loss of my youngest child. Other days, it’s finding new ways to let happiness wash over me, opening myself to the signs that say my daughter is still with me, or learning ways to shape my newfound strength. The important thing is that I, like Sheryl and so many others, have chosen – and still choose – life.
The one aspect of grief that Sheryl hasn’t yet experienced is how grief weathers the passage of several years, and often the changes are hard to discern. But, when I read Sheryl’s post, I realized how far I’ve traveled on my journey, and how much stronger I’ve become. Given the insights that Sheryl has already found and so generously shared, I have little doubt that, despite the utter depletion that her grief has caused, she will continue to regain her amazing strength over time in new and significant ways.
This column is featured in Donna Mebane’s Wisps of Hope newsletter.
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