What has changed in my grief journey and how have I changed as a person?
In September it will be 3 years (!?) since my husband, Dan, passed away and 3 years possessing the ‘young widow’ label. 3 years seems like both the longest and shortest time all in one go. In some ways, nothing has changed, but in other ways everything has. In 2020, our lives were shaken up, down and sideways as we started living alongside the new virus – that was certainly a shock to the, system to say the least.
It often crossed my mind as to how Dan would have reacted to this and, in some ways, I am grateful his fight with cancer ended back in 2018 – which sounds like an awful thing to say. I don’t mean I wish to have spent even less time with him than I was granted, not in the slightest. But he would have hated being vulnerable and forced to shield from the world like so many currently are. Adventuring, exploring and tasting life was what he lived for and the thought of him being trapped indoors fills my heart with dread.
That being said, ‘gratitude’ is a ‘new’ emotion I have been feeling since this grief journey started. I say ‘new’ reluctantly, as I have always been grateful for having Dan in my life. However, initially, that gratitude was slightly ‘shadowed’ by the fog of other emotions like anger, regret, guilt and general sadness. Just recently, I have felt a ‘shift’ in my grief journey, which I think is leading me on a new path that before was covered by the initial emotions.
This ‘shift’ has happened relatively quickly – maybe over the past 5 weeks or so – and I have noticed a new willingness, purpose and motivation in what I do. Before, for instance, I had very little drive to write or post on my social media channels, however, recently I have had so many ideas come to mind that I have wanted to write down and share – in the hopes that it might help even just one person.
Recently, I have opened up more about the concept of ‘death’ and the PTSD that has followed me right from my very first initial grief journey when I was six. I have been more open with the people around me with regards to how I’m feeling and even learnt more about what ‘triggers’ upsetting emotions. Gradually, I am also learning to love myself that bit more; so no more ‘what if people think I’m annoying’ thoughts and no more wondering what others opinions are of me.
Realistically, I have learnt that what others think of me is their opinion and I have no right knowing or questioning it. I have begun to ‘put myself out there’ more, regarding work and projects I feel passionate about. Since learning about the concept of ‘self-doubt,’ I have also started to explore ways of removing this emotion from my life. Toxic friends and family have been kept at arms-length, while also realising that I myself might be toxic to some people and no longer needed in their life, which I want to talk about more in greater detail at a later date.
Planning for the Future
So, what now? Well, I don’t really know, if I’m being honest with you. I plan to learn more about grief and mental health and how I can help others through their process. I am hoping this writing bug continues and I keep up to date with my blog and Instagram channels – with even the *slight* possibility of returning gradually to YouTube when I have more ideas (suggestions are always welcome – fill in a form here!) I hope to engage more with everyone who has followed my journey, whether that be over the last 10 years, or in the last few weeks.
I want to drive this new purpose into something good and give back where I can – especially during such a difficult time for so many.
For those of you who might be on a new grief journey, battling through an existing one or preparing to embark on one – I don’t want to be that person that says ‘it gets better.’ So many people said that to me when I have started a number of ‘grief journeys’ and I know it just doesn’t help. However, I will say that one day, unexpectedly, there will be a shift in the pain and confusion you’re feeling. It will come out of the blue and you might not even realise it has happened, until you do. That anger will turn into purpose and your head will be clearer than it ever has been. The hurt will still be there, unfortunately, it always will. But, instead of fogging up every decision you do, it will be a light leading the way through paths you never even thought were available to you.