The 10-year anniversary and my #1 lesson learned

Sep 09, 2022

This week marks a decade since my husband passed suddenly and my world changed dramatically. I’ve learned that grief can’t be outrun, that it’s okay to not be okay, and the importance of finding people who get it.

But the most important lesson these ten years have taught me is this:

Grief and happiness coexist, and they have nothing to do with one another.

In the early years, the duality was disorienting. Experiencing a happy moment and simultaneously, equal parts sadness, felt like emotional whiplash.

Grief is with me today because the man I gave my life to is still gone. But my experience of grief is different now. I carry it like a backpack, and I’m strong enough now that I’m often not aware it’s there.

I permissioned myself to find my own version of happiness, to experience joy again, to fully live this life I have. And I learned not to make it mean anything about my late husband or our love.

The grief and the happiness coexist. And yet they’re unrelated. Because I ache for my late husband does not mean that I can’t also relish in the joy in my life. And because I relish in the joy does not mean that I am in any way disrespecting my late husband.

I learned to lean into the duality, to allow it. And over time, it felt less disorienting and more familiar.

It’s something like living in a parallel universe. And that’s okay.

This life is something I could not have fathomed before loss, and certainly not in the early years after loss. It’s taken me a decade to describe it. And my understanding of it will no doubt continue to evolve.

This week I’ll spend some time in the mountains soaking up the solitude and silence, and experiencing, simultaneously, the joy and pain of this life that I’ve been given.

I hope you’ll take extra good care of yourself, too.

 

If you can’t permission yourself to experience joy again, I understand. I did, too. This belief prevented me from finding happiness. It didn’t give me permission to fully live my life. And I believed it for years. But you don’t have to.

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