Coping With Loss and Grief - Finding My Way Back to Joy
"Mom, are you happy?”, my 15-year-old daughter asked me a few nights ago. This caught me by surprise.
“Why do you ask?” was my passively defensive response.
“I dunno…..(long pause) You’ve been binging shows and just sitting on the couch.”
And there it was. The reality of my last few weeks. Was I happy? She knew something about me wasn’t right. Since my Dad died in July my day to day has become quite dull and flat. As much as I want to feel inspired and creative, I just don’t.
Prior to June 19th, the day my Dad went into the hospital, I was buzzing about getting ready to launch my new YouTube content and finish filming a project. I had so many ideas and had a great writing routine going. I mostly sat in gratitude and was able to find joy in so many little things throughout my day. The end of June and the entire month of July I spent focused on my Dad and his health. I am so fortunate that my schedule allowed me to take that time to be completely present for his last days on this earth. After his funeral at the beginning of August, kids started school and life resumed. And now I feel stuck. Stuck trying to return to my previous state of mind.
I haven’t had the desire to follow my usual morning routine. Aside from walking my dogs, I don’t write in my journal anymore. I don’t mediate anymore. I don’t listen to inspirational talks or read inspirational books anymore. Life has become flat and until my daughter pointed this out, I was ok with that.
The day after my father’s funeral my kids returned to school. Two days after that I returned to filming. My schedule became infused with appointments and meetings and I thought I was successfully working through my grief. Except the hustle and bustle didn’t end my grief, it just postponed it. I was hyper focused on getting back to “normal” and thus started neglecting my spirit.
I wrote a FB post last week when my husband returned to work. As I sat in our quiet house, I was overwhelmed by the number of changes related to loss that were behind and ahead of us. The first loss was that of my father. He would have been 86 on August 26. That day was hard. Then we returned Sushi, my niece Biankah’s adorable 7 lbs. Yorkipoo that we had been taking care of for the past few months. Sushi kept me smiling and distracted with her doggy antics. I deeply felt this loss as well.
Our oldest son will be moving into the dorms at UC Santa Cruz in a couple of weeks. We had what I call our bonus year with him during his freshman year of college due to the pandemic. I am thrilled for him and his upcoming adventure, but I’m sad that he is leaving. Everyone is telling me he’ll be back, and of course he will. This is just another change to cope with. Our family of 5 will now be only 4 for dinner.
We’re also packing up my Mom’s house as she has decided to sell. She’s lived there for 52 years. I took my first steps in that house. I climbed the tree in the backyard more times than I can count with my brother and cousin pretending to be Princess Leia. So many memories, both good and bad, born in that house. And this change brings with it two more. My mom will be moving in with us. This is my silver lining because I truly have the best Mom in the world. But the sale of her house means that we will also need to sell our house of 16 years to find a better home that will fit us more comfortably. Saying goodbye to this place that I love will be very hard.
So much change in such a short period of time. My heart is having a hard time keeping up. I’ve responded to the stress of all these changes by lying low and binging Netflix and Hulu. And once I really started thinking about this I realized, I’m ok. It could be worse. I’m getting my work done and getting the kids to school on time. I'm allowing myself time to rest and not forcing myself to be what I can’t be at this moment. I refuse to feel bad about my current state because this too is part of my evolution. Even in this dullness there are lessons I am learning. Everything, absolutely everything that happens to us also happens for us. My first step towards joy is simply being aware of where I stand now and respectfully and lovingly acknowledging why I’m here. I’ve decided to treat myself as my own best friend and instead of judging myself harshly for feeling stuck, I’ve decided to love myself through it until I find my way back to joy. A good friend reminded me that if I had broken my arm, I would not be expected to use that arm for 6 weeks. I am still healing.
As I return to writing and to Fiery Living, a giant source of joy for me, I understand that this experience is why I created this blog to begin with. I wanted to liberate myself from judgment and expectations. I wanted to talk about connecting to our inner selves, our creative selves, our inspired selves. In surrendering to this moment and all the feelings that come with it, I am free.