Grief is unique in that it takes on many forms, a shape shifter if you will. One moment grief is the physical pain you feel in your shoulders and the next it is a laugh with friends remembering someone. Grief can appear at any moment, whenever it sees fit, years later, the next day, the next week… it isn’t always bad but it is almost always heavy.
This last week I lost one of my “kids”. I have been coaching since the day I graduated college, I have kids all over that will forever be connected to me. I have buried two them, on Saturday we said goodbye to the second.
While I can never know the grief of a mother losing her child, I feel it in my own way. These kids become apart of you, they show up for you, they work hard, they live their life amongst your practices and games. You spend hours in a van listening to bad rap music and breathing in hair spray. You laugh together and you cry together. There is a bond that is so strong that years later a group of girls stood beside me embracing each other to say goodbye to their teammate.
Grief can feel heavy and peaceful at the same time. Sometimes you aren’t sure if you should laugh or cry, but you know you need to feel and process. A few years ago I went through a trauma in my life that caused me to seek professional help, a choice that changed everything.
My therapist helped me through the worst moments and gave me the tools I needed to move forward. To help others process. One of my kids stopped by this week to catch up, we talked about how when something like this happens everything gets kind of blurry, how even if you aren’t incredibly close to the situation you still feel it’s wake. I was reminded of a lesson my therapist taught me and something I still say to myself today.
If you imagine your life as a cup of water, clear and full. Then imagine trauma as dirt. When you add the dirt to the cup it becomes muddy, messy, and foggy. Time by itself will clear things up, the dirt will settle, the water will appear to be clear.
But if you shake the cup everything becomes foggy again. If you don’t process the dirt out of the water, it will only settle again waiting until something shakes the cup to resurface. Clear as mud… right?
Trauma, grief, heartache, it’s all the dirt of our lives. It happens, it’s almost inevitable. Your water will not stay clear. If you ignore the dirt it may settle over time, but it’s still there and it will fog up your life eventually. I remember feeling out of control, I couldn’t understand why the simplest of things would cause me to spiral. Why I couldn’t recall information when I needed it, why I felt like I was numb and just going through the motions. My therapist told me that these little things shook the cup and at this traumatic time in my life, my cup was really really full of dirt. Therefor, things became really really messy, really quick.
I had to process the dirt.
On Monday, when I heard that we had lost her, it shook the cup. My first reaction was to protect, to over protect if I am being honest. I contacted my kids, I checked on them obsessively, I made sure they all were okay or as okay as they could be. They had lost a friend, a teammate, a member of our family. On Wednesday I realized that I had lost someone too, it took a few days for reality to sink in. My kids hadn’t just lost someone they knew, I had lost her as well. Grief shows up in different ways, a shape shifter.
I share this with you because I need to. I am filtering out the dirt myself. I share this with you because I want you to know that this week may feel foggy, this month, and maybe even this year, but over time the trauma will settle. If you have the courage to process this loss you are left with a clear view. Not one where she is forgotten and sifted out, but where you can truly see her as the beautiful and vibrant young woman she was.
I went to the mall on Thursday, “retail therapy” if you will. Our tiny mall added those animals you can pay $5 to ride and go about 3 miles an hour around the mall lobby. My eyes filled with tears and I couldn’t help but smile. She never walked away from a moment worth living. I am so thankful that I had the chance to live a few of those moments with her.