How do you cope when someone you love dies? If you’ve lost a loved one, you know pain unlike anything else. Nobody’s road to healing is the same, but maybe this truth that helped me will help you, too.
Sadness comes and sadness goes. Sometimes the presence of pain is stronger than its absence. Sometimes my highs are so high and my lows are so low it’s a miracle I can function at all. I know I’m not alone in this healing process, one that can feel more heartbreaking than the loss itself.
After my grandmother passed, I would wonder where she is, if she knows I don’t know what to do with her death, and if that’s okay.
I would think of my mother. She lost her mom. The enormity of that is just too vast for my mind to grasp. How can you lose your mother? How? I know this is life and people die all the time — and, people are born.
Energy and love are recycled. Nothing is lost.
I would think of all these things and feel so much that I would have to write it all down in a kind of desperation. And when I couldn’t see what I was writing anymore, I would roll out a yoga mat that’s not mine, sit on it, and cry into the emptiness of my reflection staring back at me from the living room window.
I would cry until I couldn’t breathe, yet I knew even that was just scratching at the surface of what needed to be felt, moved through and let out. I would cry and cry. Then, when all the crying left me utterly exhausted in a way only heavy tears can, I would go back to bed.
My friend lost her mother. After my grandmother passed and I would think about my own mother, I found myself thinking of my friend. I’d spend so much time pondering her mother’s passing even though her loss wasn’t mine and it happened years earlier. I would try to put myself in her place to understand just a fraction of what she had gone through, but I couldn’t.
What would my world be like without my mom? It’s no world. I can’t even see it in my mind as an imaginary place.
My friend lives and breathes even though her mother no longer does. She moved through it; she laughs, teaches yoga and smiles all the time, but what goes on inside of her heart... I don’t know. It’s been years, but still — what is a world without your mother? It’s too big. I can’t feel it even though in 3 months I lost my best friend, baby dog and grandmother — the three spirits that carried my heart in theirs in the most special and intimate ways.
My grandmother is gone, my mother’s mother, and I was left wondering...
How and why is this the order of things?
My mother lost her mother and I lost my grandmother, and even though we lost the same person, our losses are so different. I wanted to be there for my mom. I knew what pain was because that was the year the universe decided it was my time to feel. I knew pain, but my mother’s pain was a whole other world.
Our mothers are our beginnings. They choose us, we choose them and our lives begin. Then, at some point they die and we keep living. It’s the order of things, but that doesn’t mean it always makes sense.
People die all the time, even mothers and grandmothers, best friends and dogs. They die, and when they go, they leave you things like yoga mats and trees in your garden that you never planted.
They take a lot with them when they go.
But they leave you things that become everything. You think they died and took it all, but in a way they died so they could leave you these everythings.
You lost a lot, but you have so much.
Your heart is bigger now. There’s more room for noticing things like what the wind feels like on your cheek in the morning.
Still, there will probably be days when you’ve lost your ground; you have to stumble through the dark, not knowing where to place your feet or how to protect yourself from the newness of life ahead.
And sometimes you’ll wake yourself up crying in the middle of the night; it’s loud, but it’s quiet. There are dogs in your bed, but not the one you dream of over and over again. In your dreams you keep losing him in malls, in the woods and in airports, and it’s not your fault, but it is.
Then your husband will squeeze your hand. Your mind will come back into this world and you’ll know the dog is not lost but with grandmothers and soul sisters.
Because when we pass, we are found. Everyone is found.
The rest of us continue; we still have work to do.
One day we will find our way, too. But for now we are still fumbling through the darkness with trembling hands and heavy-beating hearts wondering where to place our feet next. As we continue to step forward in the dark, pockets of light will appear. Over time, more and more of them will find you.
You will feel their presence in random objects that have nothing to do with them as well as their favorite things, like flowers and songs and their favorite napping corner.
You will begin to believe that they’re not gone forever; they’re still connected with you and sending you love with every fumbling step you take.
And one day, even if just for a split second, you’ll see something that makes you say “life is beautiful.” And you’ll mean it.
If you’re moving through the loss of a loved one, first, try to reword it: you didn’t lose them, they just transformed into another way of existence. No one is lost, everyone is found.
Breathe space into the tight spots in your body.
Breathe space into the closed corners of your heart.
Breathe space into the pain, into the sadness, into the weight you carry on your shoulders.
Breathe, and all is coming.
Everything will heal, including your broken heart.
You are never, ever alone. If you need a reminder, join our sacred community for support on Facebook.
What are some ways you’ve felt your loved one’s presence? If you have a story to share, it can help our community trust that they’ll be able to feel the presence of their loved ones, too.
P.S. We have yoga classes, meditations and guides to help you mend your precious heart over on oneOeight.com.