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I Can't Breathe

Melodramatic start, I know. Sorry about that.

This post is about grief.

Overwhelming, crippling and all-encompassing.

You might want to stop reading now, please don't.

We will all experience grief in our lives and yet we all do not talk about it, afraid it may be catching. Afraid to share such heart-breaking emotions. Death is an unavoidable certainty and yet we fear to speak of it.

It hit me like a steam train. It made my chest feel tight and I thought I'd never be able to take a full breath again.

I did and you will.

Today it is a super foggy morning, I looked out the window and could not see the other side of the road. Days like these I feel it, I feel that intense tightening in my chest, that suffocation. Mum died on a morning just like today.

I will never forget the drive at 3am in freezing fog, barely able to see the road and with tears that would not stop. My breath was catching in my throat and I was gulping for air. My chest so heavy I thought I might implode.

It was my birthday, but instead of being filled with celebration the day was filled with sorrow and emptiness.

But slowly, slowly the fog lifts and the sun burns away at the clouds and you see patches of blue sky again. It can take forever, but it happens.

Baby steps.

Remember, the sun is always there behind those clouds, you just sometimes actively have to choose to let it in.

You may have heard the analogy of the grief maze. It's such a useful tool for kids to understand grief, but it helps adults too. When you are in the very thick of it (in the very heart of the maze) and fog rolls in, there is no way you can see a way out. Slowly you take a tentative step toward where you think 'way out' may be, you stumble, hit obstacles and sometimes you'll turn the completely wrong way and just as you start giving up you will find a way forward, a clue to step in the right direction and you will come out the other side. It make take ages, it is a journey and it is your alone to take. You may be lucky and have someone hold your hand in the dark but choosing the way is something you need to do. Nobody can show you the way, because the path that was best for them, may not be the one intended for you.

It takes belief, it takes strength, it takes courage and it takes willpower, but you have these in abundance. Look in your heart. Have faith.

What people do not share enough is that you will be different the other side, changed when you reappear. Like a Kintsugi pot, utterly broken and put back together with gold leaf. Maybe a little tougher. Resilient. More beautiful. More equipped for anything else life throws at you.

Those breaks you feel inside will always remain, you will wear the scars with pride (they show you cared, you loved) but you will build a new life around them. The loss will not go, but you get used to the pain to empower you and drive you forward, dedicating amazing moments in your life to the person you lost. They would want you to be happy. They would choose happy over sorrow for you. Do not feel guilt or shame to smile again. Live your best life for them, because of them. Be their legacy. Keep striving forward because they no longer can.

My tears of sadness are fewer than they’ve been in a long while. Happiness and grief coexist in my heart. Grief is a fickle thing. Tomorrow is a new day and new days aren’t always good, but they can be.

I will always miss mum; that will never, ever change but I know she would rather I strove forward than looked back and wallowed. So I raise my head up, I smile, and I take a step forward... for mum, because of mum.

Hope this helped you on your journey.

With love,

Kate x


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