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Hope with a heart around it

The way loss and grief taught me how to live

Meg Roberts Calgary Life Coach and Grief Recovery Specialist | Loss and Grief

 

The way loss and grief taught me how to live. 

 

Loss and grief has been no stranger in my life. However, loss of my fiancé was the loss that changed every aspect of my life.

 

When I heard those words, my entire world came crashing down on me.

 

“Nick didn’t make it.”

 

Nick.

 

My fiancé.

 

The person I was supposed to marry on October 14, 2016.

 

Nick, the man I was supposed to spend the rest of my life with. Also, the man who was supposed to be by my side during the most challenging days of my life. He was the one person I needed the most in the darkest time of my life, and the one person I could no longer reach.

 

The way loss and grief taught me how to live?

 

For starters, I no longer say the words “supposed to.” Undoubtedly there are so many things that were supposed to happen.  It took me a long time to let those things go. In fact, it took me a long time to understand that things are not “supposed to” happen. In actuality, they will happen if they are meant to.

 

I didn’t always believe this, and it’s okay if you don’t.

 

We all believe what we need to believe to survive. Thus, I needed to hold on to the idea that I wasn’t given this life as punishment; I was given it as it is part of my story. As a result of this belief, I was able to get through some of the ugliest moments of my grief. I would ask myself, “what am I meant to learn, and what am I meant to do with this.”

 

What would follow was usually many tears, a lot of anger, and lots of colorful words. But then, out of nowhere, a moment of calmness. This calmness would overwhelm me as I realized what was happening. By opening myself up to these questions and the emotions that accompanied them, whether good or bad, I was healing. 

 

It was helping.

 

I was changing.

 

Admittedly, this doesn’t always work. If it doesn’t feel right asking yourself this question, don’t force it. Give it time, perhaps then it will feel right. Maybe someday you will feel yourself changing and healing one ugly emotion at a time.

 

I don’t know what will work for everyone, but I do know, we are not meant to suffer.

 

It’s been five years now. Even so, I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I was in the process of packing for a trip to Vegas. A feeling in my gut told me all day that something was wrong. Even the night before, I was unsettled. Nevertheless, I chalked it up to a stressful week at work and didn’t think much of it until my phone beeped with a message.”

 

“Call me ASAP.”

 

This message was from the wife of one of Nick’s friends who was with Nick on the mountain.

 

“The boys were in an avalanche.”

 

At the time, I was told no one knew anything, but I now know they did. They desperately wanted to keep it from me for as long as they could. I don’t blame them.

 

I still can’t imagine how hard it must have been to share the words, “Nick didn’t make it.” On too many occasions, I was on the giving end of a next of kin notification as a police officer. I am well aware of how difficult it is.

 

Not to mention, I had to make the calls to Nick’s family, Nick’s best friend back home and so many others. To say the least, it too was beyond excruciating.

 

The more you say it, the more real it becomes.

 

I remember the look on the face of the first person I locked eyes with after hearing those words. I will never forget her face, and she will always remember mine. We still talk about it to this day. I believe it was the type of experience that, in a way, creates a lasting kind of bond.

 

I remember thinking, this can’t be happening. My life was perfect. We were on our way to building a life we both wanted for a long time. We were in our prime. I had a gorgeous wedding dress hanging in my closet; I had bought it less than a month prior and planned our entire wedding. Some people had invitations on the way as it was one of the last things Nick and I did together; we sent them out.

 

Some received their invite after Nick had died.

 

I picked our wedding rings up less than 24hrs before he died. How can something like this happen? How can the Universe create something so catastrophic to two people who loved each other so much? Two people who were born on the same day just hours apart.

 

That must mean something.

 

That must have meant we were “supposed” to be on this planet together. How can we be separated so soon?

 

I have learned that no matter what we think is supposed to happen if it’s not meant to be a part of our story, it won’t be.

 

As much as I denied it for a long time and refused to accept it, Nick’s death was meant to be a part of my story.

 

I see that now.

 

I look at it as one of the greatest gifts of my life. This statement may be hard for some to understand, and I didn’t fully come to this appreciation until a couple of years later, when my son was born.

 

I live my life completely different now. 

 

When I need perspective, all I do is go back to that first hour, that first day, that first month, even that first year. I remind myself that nothing matters as much as I think it does, and I know now that I can get through pain.

 

I don’t discount very real stressors in my life or anyone’s life for that matter, but I give myself grace when going through the hard stuff. More importantly, I don’t allow it to take away from the beauty of this life.

 

Life can be beautiful and challenging simultaneously; it doesn’t have to be one or the other.

 

The difference now is, I don’t allow myself to get stuck in the hard stuff. I know all too well that there isn’t enough time in our lives to spend large amounts of it suffering. I’ve learned there are practices, supports, and people who can help you.

 

People who can heal things in you that you didn’t even know needed healing.

 

After ten years of policing, loads of loss and so much grief, suppressing my emotions as a default coping mechanism, was no longer working.

 

I learned very quickly after Nick’s death how much I needed to heal. Specifically, how much I had ignored for many years. It all came to the surface, and I had no choice but to face it.

 

Either that or I would never recover.

 

I had faith in myself, and I have faith in everyone’s ability to heal and overcome loss, grief, and the most unimaginable experiences.

 

One thing I have learned is we are hardwired to get through pain. I have seen people from afar and sat with people up close dealing with excruciating pain.

 

I have witnessed people work through things that I once thought no one could overcome.

 

But I see it.

 

It’s possible, and I have been touched by some of the most inspiring people on the planet. Many of which I would never have met had I not experienced the loss of my person.

 

Those people continue to move me towards life.

 

They continue to move me towards greater things.

 

They continue to move me towards growth in myself and healing of others. 

 

Those people move me towards colour on days I only see grey.

 

We all hold within us the power to overcome anything.

 

Everyone possesses the bravery and the strength they need to push through.

 

We all have courage.

 

One of the things that may hold us back is resistance.

 

Resisting the process of digging deep to discover our power.

 

Our power to heal.

 

Even when we can barely hold our head up, even when our eyes are closed, and all we see is horror, we must have faith.

 

We must have hope.

 

We have to believe in ourselves “enough,” and we have to be willing to embrace the worst parts of life, long enough to reach the other side; because there is another side.

 

It’s an ugly road getting there, but it’s there.

 

I moved forward, and even though I resisted it, I found love again. Real love. Even more real than what I experienced with Nick. I couldn’t have loved Nick any more than I did, and just because my love is more profound in my relationship now, it’s not meant as a comparison.

 

I have realized that when you love and lose, the way you love after that is very different. You no longer love with the idea that you can lose someone; you love with the knowing that you will.

 

You just don’t know when.

 

When all the things you never thought could happen to you happen, you can no longer live in a naïve world. You can no longer deny the real reality of death.

 

Death has taught me that without its inevitability, many of us may never truly live.

 

The journey from loss to recovery is something no one can prepare for and the way you think it will be, is nowhere near the reality.

 

It’s much worse.

 

In the beginning, I didn’t want to survive Nick’s death, so if you are reading this and you are going through a significant loss, please know, the resistance to healing you may be feeling is normal.

 

I remember one night, a few months after Nick died, I had a panic attack out of nowhere. My day for the most part was a pretty good day, and then suddenly, I thought I was having a heart attack. I was terrified. I messaged my neighbour and my dear friend Karyn, who was on duty. Karyn called me an ambulance and made it to my house as fast as she could. Although I was beyond embarrassed to find out I wasn’t dying, the feeling of terror brought me relief when I thought I was.

 

I realized for the first time that day that I wanted to live. After many days of contemplating suicide and believing at one point it would be the best for everyone, I knew this was a huge step towards healing.

 

From that day on, I knew I had to make a choice; I either lived, or I didn’t. This has become a mantra that I share with many.

 

When all the things you never thought could happen, happen, and you have fallen to your knees with no hope of finding strength, I want you to know; you will make it. It won’t be easy, and at times you will want to throw in the towel because the pain doesn’t seem worth it. If you keep going through and trust there is light, even when you can’t see it, you will make it.

 

I did, despite not wanting to at first.

 

Five years later

 

It was five years since Nick’s death yesterday, and I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel on this milestone anniversary. The way I imagined my life being by this time was very different than what it is.

 

I would have usually driven out to the area in which Nick died, and I would have played the song Go Rest High on That Mountain loud enough so he could hear it, wherever he is. As a Mom, a spouse, and a grad school student, it just isn’t quite as possible to make those trips now.

 

I once would feel immense guilt, as if I wasn’t showing Nick love if I didn’t do something outrageous to honor him. But I have learned that it doesn’t matter where I am or what I am doing, he is there, and he feels the love of those he left behind.

 

I know because I still feel the love from him.

 

I don’t pressure myself to make a day out of all of the milestones and anniversaries. When you experience loss, you realize, everything that occurs in your life following loss is an important milestone, and it’s the little things that matter. Like speaking their name, allowing yourself to cry when the grief unexpectedly rolls in after months or years or being “fine.”

 

The little things like Scott (my new person) ordering a twisted tea and placing it on the table full while we toast to Nick. As if he’s right there with us. I am not sure Scott realized how meaningful this small act was, but anyone who knew Nick knows that he would have loved to enjoy that twisted tea with us, and I have no doubt he was there.

 

Scott may have never met Nick, but the respect and appreciation for his death is something many likely would never understand.

 

Our beautiful life would not exist if Nick still did.

 

Life is a gift, and as I have said many times, I will not take this gift for granted.

 

I refuse because I know this gift doesn’t last forever.

 

I know because I watched a perfectly healthy 30-year-old man run out of time in the prime of his life, and that changed every aspect of my life.

 

If you are still living, there is a reason, and I urge you to find it if you haven’t already figured it out. It doesn’t have to be a big reason, and you don’t need to change the world, but you do need to feel joy in living. You need to accept yourself unconditionally and know that you are loved, and you are worthy.

 

If you are here, it is for a reason, and you are not meant to suffer.

 

Five years ago, on February 20, 2016, my life came crashing down on me, and I didn’t think I was going to survive. It turns out I did, and what I have learned in the last five years is that although not everyone overcomes tragedy, everyone is capable of it.

 

I hope to show others what is possible by sharing my story and by encouraging them to embrace their own. The loss, the grief, the joy; the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

It’s all a part of life and each piece is part of your story and what makes you, you. 

 

We are placed on this earth for only a short time, and we all deserve to experience life in all its glory, and I promise you; we are not meant to suffer.

 

With love,

Don't just exist; live.

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Meg is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist and Certified Life Coach Practitioner.

She dedicates her time to helping others who have suffered hardships, tragedy, or pain, by giving them the foundation to live life to the fullest.

Her purpose is to encourage others to take control of their lives and not let circumstances destroy it. Find your passion for life again and receive the support you need from someone who may not know what you are feeling but knows how hard change can be, especially in the face of adversity.

If you would like to know more information on coaching or one of the Grief Support programs, you can book a FREE consultation to determine your next steps.

Call: 587-432-5836 Email: [email protected]

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