“Grief shatters our lives. Figuring out how to pick up the pieces is a critical part of the journey.” This is the thought that was running through my head as the light case in the kitchen crashed to the ground freaking out Soren, Demetri and me. I had just changed the light bulb and thought I had tightened the screws back in tightly enough. I guess not.
I just stared at the shattered case for a few seconds as Soren jumped into action to get the dogs out-of-the-way and safe. Then, I started laughing. Talk about serendipity with my thoughts and the action in the room. Wild, just wild. As Demetri, Soren, and I figured out how to safely get everything picked up my musing brain began making connection after connection between the shattered light case and my experience of Russell’s sudden death and my grieving journey since.
*Pieces go everywhere. The shattering of one’s self at the loss of a loved through death, divorce, rupture in the friendship, etc. is broad and all-encompassing. Not a piece of our lives is unaffected by the loss.
*Just when you think you have all of them gathered up some more pop up, sometimes in your foot, causing renewed pain and a search for missing pieces. The grieving journey is not like a trip that has a beginning and an end time. It is a journey that goes on and on and on far longer than anyone thinks it could. The causes of renewed pain vary for everyone, but they do pop up for us all. Sometimes the expected times cause less pain than the ones that seemingly come out of nowhere. All of them open up new wounds and the need for more healing.
*The shattering is quick and startling. Staring for a while at the shattering as your brain tries to process what just happened is very common. It leaves us in shock, wanting to sit on the floor and cry, and even at a complete loss as to what to do next. Even if the death of a loved one or the finalization of a divorce is expected the final moment of loss is startling and devastating. In the blink of an eye one of the ways we may have defined ourselves for years has forever changed. Our naming of ourselves begins to shift and it can take years to settle into this new reality. All in the blink of an eye.
*Sometimes, no matter, how careful we are things shatter and can’t be returned to its original condition. Much of our lives is out of our immediate control. We cannot keep everyone and everything in our lives safe all of the time. Even if we are able to patch ourselves back together it is impossible to return our lives back to the original condition we were in before the shattering. No matter how well we heal nothing will ever be the same as it was at the moment of shattering.
*Patching up the old or creating new is one of the decisions that must be made and it depends how shattered things are. Sometimes we are able to take enough of what was there before the shattering and carefully patch it up enough to make it functional again. Other times it is much healthier and smarter to just start new.
*Expect to find pieces in weird places for a long time afterwards. Things will pop up for days, weeks, months, even years that are part of the initial shattering. The question isn’t if they will pop up instead it is when and where. Making ourselves stronger on a daily basis by focusing on self-care and our own healing helps us to handle better finding things that can drop us back into the moment of shattering.
*Talking to others about how to pick up the shattered pieces is a good idea. Doing parts of it yourself also a good idea. In the initial shattering and in those moments that we find new pieces and are deeply reminded of the shattering it is a very good idea to have others around to help pick up the pieces for one’s healing. There are many parts that we can only do on our own for our personal self-care. But much can be done to find strength and hope by allowing others into our healing journey. Find those folks who are willing to companion you on your journey, taking you as you show up each day.
*The shattering may play over and over in your mind for a while, ringing in your ears. The moment of loss and the shattering of ourselves can play itself over in our minds for a long time. It affects our waking and our sleeping dreams. It affects all we do as we learn to allow our brains to assimilate the moment of shattering. This can be especially hard if the shattering was unexpected and without warning.
*The shattering affects everyone involved to varying degrees. Each person who experiences the shattering by the loss of a loved one is affected differently. Two people can be present at the same exact occurrence and experience it radically different. Who we are, what our own life learnings are about, other losses we have experienced, how we handle stress, and so much more impact how something affects us. What is important to remember is that just because one person’s loss isn’t the same as our own it doesn’t mean their loss is any less than ours. Each person’s is authentic to their own journey and just as valid as another person.
*Lights are left bare while waiting for a new cover. It takes time, as much as is needed by each individual, to be ready to move on into something new. Being raw and exposed for a while is a natural part of the healing journey. It is essential to be extra careful and gentle with one’s self and others during this time. This exposed time can be a scary time to walk. It can also be a time of great opportunity as one explores new things to embrace as a new reality.
The reality of life is that we are going to experience times of great loss that leave us feeling shattered. We cannot change that fact. All we can do is to find ways to pick up the pieces of our shattered selves and move forward into a new reality.