Peace and Pain can Coexist

IMG_1178“I have something to tell you,” she said trembling, “I got a call from the doctor.”  I don’t think I’ve ever seen someone so scared as in that moment.  I sat and watched, as she told him something had popped up during a routine exam, and the doctors wanted to monitor it more closely.  I knew she hated having that conversation with him via video chat.  Holding her phone in one hand, she wiped away a steady flow of tears.  In those moments of terrible fear and uncertainty, you want to be held by those you love.  She couldn’t reach him.  She couldn’t bury herself in his arms.  Instead she sat there, alone, tears streaming down her face and hands trembling.  Just then, something on his end interrupted the conversation.  “Let me call you back,” he said.

He never did.  And she never heard his voice again.

Grief is a powerful emotion.  The unexpected loss of a loved one can generate any number of psychological and physiological reactions.  When that loss is voluntary on the part of one member in the relationship though…the trauma of abandonment can cut so deep that your heart feels physically pierced.

We all handle grief in different ways, because we all process the world a little differently than the next person.  For many though, a photo can take us on a journey through time.  It takes us back to a particular day, a particular moment in time, and it almost always brings back the emotions associated with them.


Of course plenty of photos bring back happy memories.  These are the ones we share on social media, wanting to celebrate an achievement, an experience, or a milestone with friends and family.  But there are also those that when you look at them, your chest involuntarily gets tight and the picture suddenly blurs as your eyes fill with tears.  They take you back to a moment, a day, a week, a month, even year, that you wish you could forget.  Or at the very least, you wish you could remove that ache inside you and place it on the shelf for a little while.

IMG_4671Thankfully, with grief also comes healing.   The tight grip around your heart slowly releases.  Thankfully, the days that follow the nights of weeping so hard your knees buckle, and you can’t catch your breath, there are small blessings that give you hope to go on for one more day.  You woke up didn’t you?  That should be one indicator your journey isn’t over.

No one can predict how long you will grieve, and no one should tell you when it is time to stop.  The people who love you will walk that journey with you.  Perhaps not fully understanding, but their love for you transcends their own logic.  And don’t forget about those who have walked in your shoes, who stand ready to show you empathy, and whose embrace speaks more than a thousand soothing words.  Your journey of healing can help pave the way for another person’s healing.  No one ever said the journey must be traveled alone.


Terry Irwin once said, “Grief is never something you get over. You don’t wake up one morning and say, ‘I’ve conquered that; now I’m moving on.’ It’s something that walks beside you every day. And if you can learn how to manage it and honor [or forgive] the person that you miss, you can take something that is incredibly sad and have some form of positivity.”  IMG_4960.JPG

For some, that positivity is starting a new activity, taking a trip on your bucket list, joining a book club, or purging your house of clutter.  For others, it’s starting a blog.

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