This is Grief – By Meg Roberts Grief Recovery Specialist
My heart is breaking.
This is the reality of grief.
It’s been another fatal season for avalanches, just like the year Nick died. I remember it seemed like every Monday, we would see another death on the news. This compelled me to go out and buy hundreds of dollars worth of safety gear for Nick for Christmas in case he had an unexpected night in the elements.
My nephew was with me that day Christmas shopping, and we both decided it was well worth it to go over the budget Nick and I had agreed on. Little did we know this gear would end up missing somewhere on a mountain only a month and a half later, and this would be our last Christmas with him.
I remember all these little details like they were yesterday, and I’ve become really good at tucking them away. They will never entirely disappear, but they are rarely at the surface.
Until tragedy strikes, and another soul is taken in those mountains.
When it happens, my little compartment of memories opens up, and I start reliving the shoulda woulda coulda’s and what if’s. I said to Scott last night, “at least I can read this stuff now without having a complete meltdown, but it’s still so sad.”
This type of news used to stop me in my tracks because the memories were so sharp, and I would begin reliving that day all over again.
Every single time.
This is grief.
All I could think about were those people who were now living “the” nightmare.
It’s not so bad anymore, but it still comes, and it still hurts. When I read of someone making it to the hospital alive only to die the next day, it not only breaks my heart but it makes me wonder, would that have been better for Nick? Would I have preferred him to die in the ICU hooked up to machines rather than a beautiful bed of snow in the mountains he loved so much?
I don’t know. I’m not sure I will ever know. I am not sure it matters now.
I would have loved to have felt his warm body one last time instead of his cold shell, which is now my final memory of him.
I would have loved to say goodbye.
Would it have made it easier? Probably not.
This is grief.
Now when I read this kind of news, I don’t allow it to destroy me anymore.
I had to make that choice at one point on my journey because I was becoming fixated on things that were holding me back, not pushing me forward. I had to decide if I wanted to remain stuck in this pain or if I wanted to create something new for me because I am in the one who is alive and life is for the living after all.
This was not an easy choice or process, so don’t be fooled.
What I have learned over what has been almost four years is that I am so incredibly grateful for every morning I wake up. I am thankful for every evening I go to bed with the love of my life, and I am well aware of how quickly things can change.
This perspective has changed my life for the better.
It was a gift that was given to me on the worst day of my life, and it is now a gift I will share with anyone who is ready and willing to hear it. Nick ran out of time, and I have no idea how much I have left, so I use it wisely as much as I can.
I made a choice to honor those who lost their lives by making damn sure I didn’t waste mine.
So now, when I read these stories in the news, yes, I am still haunted momentarily by the day Nick was taken from me, but it doesn’t last long. I pull myself out of that horribly painful part of my life, and I ask myself, have I continued to live.
Am I living for both of us as I said I would?
I can confidently say yes.
My life is nothing like what I once imagined, but I can say I have accepted the good, the bad, and the ugly, and I have embraced every moment of my life since Nick died.
I used to cry and wonder what Nick was thinking at the end of his life, and it used to bring me so much pain because I had intimate knowledge of all of his unmet hopes and dreams. I learned that wondering what he was feeling and holding onto that regret he may or may not have felt was not helpful for me, and it would never help me move forward.
I had to shift my thinking and focus on what it is I want to think when I find myself at the end.
Did I live authentically? Or, did I let others dictate my path?
Did I allow fear to stand in my way? Or, did I become comfortable with welcoming that fear and treating it as an inevitable partner on this journey rather than an enemy who holds me back?
Did I reach for “unreachable goals,” or did I save those for “other people” because I never believed they were meant for me?
Did I make excuses, or did I spend my days making small steps towards my goals because I knew that each small step mattered?
Was I grateful, or did I spend my days always “needing” more?
When I see these stories in the news, I try very hard to remember what I have learned thus far. I remember that bad things happen, and they happen to good people. None of us are guaranteed tomorrow, so for those of us who make it, we must not take it for granted.
My heart goes out to those who are hurting, and my hope for them is that one day they too can see life’s beauty again because if we are lucky enough to wake up in the morning, please know, it’s for a reason.
Meg Roberts is an experienced life coach in Calgary offering grief support and life coaching. As a Grief Recovery Method specialist and as someone who has overcome her share of grief, Meg is an empathetic coach with a unique perspective on love and life. Book a Free Consultation with Meg to get started on the road to healing and recovery.