If I Could Go Back To The Centre Of My Loss

Feb 25, 2024
woman in denim walking in the wind on a grassy hillside

Well, it's that time of year again. And - though my mind cannot grasp that this is true - it is my fifth time around on this turning grief wheel. 

It has been five full years since everything fell apart. Five years from when I said goodbye forever to the person who I was. Five years from the time when I was a young mom, untouched by grief + tragedy. 

As I sit here at this coffee shop (my daughter at skiing of course, because solo moms don't often go to coffee shops on a Saturday afternoon just because) - I allow this fact to wash over me. 

Five full years. 

And you know what? It feels like a lifetime. 

Yesterday I stumbled upon an email that I wrote when we were deep, deep "in it". I remember the panic of Brian's illness, the disbelief and shock at how quickly and horrifically his body was breaking down. It feels like a different person wrote those words. A sweet, innocent, young version of me who I wish with all my heart I could tell... 

But honestly, I don't know how to finish that sentence. 

What would I tell her? 

That its going to be okay? I don't want to undermine the immensity of her suffering.

That she's going to fall apart? I don't want to scare her any more than she's already terrified. 

That she will be held with support and love? I don't want her to be disappointed by how many people will not have the capacity to be there for her through it all. 

It reminds me of the question I get asked by grief support people more than any other. 

"What should I say?" 

And I always have the same answer. 

There is nothing to say. There is no fixing this. There is nothing that will make this better. 

Most grievers just want people to accept them in the state that they are in. To acknowledge their pain. And to not turn away. 

As we look back on ourselves in the midst of our trauma, perhaps all we need, is to energetically hold ourselves through the discomfort of the complete and total devastation. Through the entire unraveling. 

And so what I wish I could do, truly, is just hold her. Hold me. In the way that no one did. 

I wish that I could be her strong arms, just for a moment. And allow her to completely fall apart. 

Looking back, I have no doubt that I did what I needed to do to survive. 

I wrote professional work emails as if this was just a "family illness" that I needed one month off to work through. 

I put my experience in a box that felt controllable, because it was too big to truly see what was happening. 

I wish I could have entirely fallen apart back then. I wish I could have lay down on the floor and wailed for weeks, only stopping to sleep from extreme exhaustion.

The truth of what happened was the exact opposite. And I work hard to have zero regrets. 

We all do what we need to do to get through our hardest things. 

This year, five years, I am returning to that time and I am imagining my arms around myself. It brings me to tears every time. 

And reminds me that there is always time to return and to give ourselves the comfort that we needed during moments that were too hard to hold. 

If it feels right for you, I hope one day, you can do this too. All in good time. 



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