How do you continue to live after 3, almost 4, of your loved ones pass within a few months? The journey is different for everyone. For me, 4 things helped me move through the worst pain and loss of my life.
Sometimes I can't believe I get to have all of this — my daughter, my husband, my dogs, my home, my heart-led businesses, all on a paradise island.
There were so many times in my life where I doubted if I was in the right place.
There were dark moments and heavy times where I lost faith in absolutely everything. My best friend died, and then my grandmother, and then my dog, and then my mom tried to commit suicide... All in one year.
1. Ask for help.
Sometimes things have to get a little bit worse before they get better.
One day, I was walking the dogs and felt this overwhelming longing to step out into the ocean...and never come back. I was on the North Shore of Aruba. It's all cliffs, and the sea was dark and rough.
I remember the feeling of wanting to disappear so well because it was a brand new feeling.
For the first time in my life, I wasn't sure I wanted to continue doing this... This life. I was so sad and in it so deeply that I just couldn't see how I would ever climb my way out. I was just so sad, every day.
I took my shoes off and put my feet in the cold water.
Then my dog Ringo barked and I realized, I can't die now. Where would the dogs go? There would be no one to bring them back home. So I walked back to the car and drove home.
I walked into the kitchen and told Dennis, "I just contemplated walking out into the ocean. I think I need help, now." The panic I saw in his eyes is something I never want to invoke in another human being ever again.
Within 5 minutes my friend Rose was there. We laid on the floor in a pile, she Dennis and I. Rose told me over and over, "it's just a wave. It's a wave of grief. We will ride it out together. It will pass soon." So we stayed there, like that. I wailed and they just held me.
Eventually the pain diminished enough for me to take a breath and realize...I don't want to die. Not at all. I want to live.
I just have to learn how to cope with these waves as they come. I need to learn how to surf.
It's been a few years since that day, and the waves still come. I had one a moment ago, just before writing this. I'm sitting here with another bestie. I have a Lea Luna in my life, and she makes everything that came before feel purposeful.
Whenever those moments arise, they still hurt like hell. But without all that I went through... I wouldn't be here.
With my feet in the sand.
Holding a love so big I don't know how I ever lived without it.
2. Raise your vibration.
After years of study and a lifetime of practice, this is know with absolute certainty:
We are infinitely powerful when it comes to our ability to take old wounds and transform them into light.
The thing is, we have to begin. And the beginning is always dark, painful and filled with everything we put away in a box marked, “things that hurt that I don’t want to look at anymore.” But we have to unpack it. There is no other way.
So we open the box and touch the pain. It hurts like hell, but we realize it’s not as scary to hold as we once thought. We realize that actually, moving though all that shit was inevitable.
__It had to be, because it was. __
And if we practice looking at those stories enough and working through our shit, we can stop resenting the people who hurt us. Because they have their own box, and no amount of trying to will them will ever make them open up theirs. Also, it’s not your job to fix them.
Your only job is to deal with our own shit, to hold space for your own emotions, to take your wounds and heal them.
Did you know that when you heal something old, that healing not only extends to future generations, but also draws back into the past?
Time isn’t linear. Ancestral healing is real. The work you do within yourself is quite literally healing and changing the world.
It’s not a small task to be faced with, but like I said, you are infinitely powerful. And what’s more, you are deeply supported.
> “We have to get close to what we fear so we know it. Know our attachments, and then let them go. We have to be willing to look at everything.” - Baba Ram Dass
For months and months after the back-to-back deaths of my best friend, grandmother and dog (my first baby, really), I was never without support. Dennis went as far as carrying me from the bed to the bathroom to shave my legs in hopes it would help my day feel a little more possible.
Still, my life felt like it was 99.9% loss and darkness. Eventually, I was able to force a smile, but inside I still felt really low.
Every morning I would wake up feeling sad, heavy, like my head was full of lead.
It would take me hours to wake up, and my normal urge to roll out my yoga mat had totally disappeared. I wanted to move and feel good, but I had absolutely no energy, so I did nothing. I didn’t make my usual morning smoothie, I didn’t run.
On the rare afternoon that I would find myself finally feeling a little bit lighter, it would be way too hot outside to run and I’d be too busy with work and family to get on the mat.
For days on end, I’d wake up feeling like this, tired and lethargic. I didn’t know if it was because of Andrea’s birthday coming up or because I’d just reached a limit of some sort… I was so used to working hard and supporting others that I felt like I’d put myself aside.
I’d lost my practice of self-care. So...what to do?
I realized this truth: I needed to raise my vibration.
I’ve known for years that yoga makes me feel my best, and that running can also work wonders. But on those rough days, when I knew I needed to practice yoga or go for a run, I just couldn’t. Everything felt heavy. I couldn’t get myself to do anything, least of all do my home practice, drive to a yoga class or wake up in time to go out for a run.
But I also knew, after that night along the North Shore and lying on my kitchen floor with Rose and Dennis, that I still wanted to live.
So I had to come up with something practical. What did I decide to do?
- I went out and bought a treadmill.
- I booked a private yoga class.
Both felt spontaneous and weird, but I felt good about it.
Normally we can only run outside around 7am or after 6pm (it just gets way too hot out here in the desert), and getting a treadmill felt like a way to be able to run in the middle of the day, even if I wake up in a funk or if we’re jet-lagged and awake at weird hours.
After my spontaneous yet strategic purchases, I ran for 20 minutes, and then my friend came over and taught me and Dennis a private yoga class.
It was all unexpectedly, absolutely wonderful.
I take classes so rarely that I’d forgotten how lovely it is to be directed by someone else, to have no responsibilities but to breathe. I could have cried the whole class through. After, I felt good. I felt lighter. Because I allowed my heart to be taken care of, by myself and those I love.
3. Feel your feelings.
Years after that hardest year of my life, I still have days when I just feel unbelievably low. I’ll feel super anxious, uneasy and unsettled for no apparent reason. All I’ll want to do is bake something or lay on the couch, watching Netflix and drowning myself in chocolate frosting.
I’ll feel like I don’t know where to place my feet next. So, I’ll just stay there for a while. Right where I am. Breathing. Feeling. Trusting.
Okay, not always trusting, but trying to trust. And that’s the most important part — that we try; that we keep trying; that we don’t give up.
Every time these days happen, I have to remind myself again and again that it’s okay. It’s okay to feel low; to mourn things I’ve lost and things that didn’t go my way.
Now, will I feel better by laying on the couch all day? No. It’s not that kind of day.
__Netflix on the couch is good and fine, but not when it’s an escape. Cake is good and fine, but not when it’s a means to not feel our feelings. __
Instead, on those days I choose to roll out my mat and write in my journal (and maybe cry a little), and move and stretch and Kundalini shake it out until whatever this is has either left my system or at least freed itself enough from my heart so that I can breathe a little easier.
I know it’s okay to feel low. We need it, even. It’s also okay to admit to the world that we need help and support.
I hope this makes you feel okay, too.
And I hope it helps you remember that we all have so many blessings.
We’re always surrounded by love, through every high and every low.
So, allow yourself to be emotional.
Don’t hold it in. Scream, yell, cry, dance, sing, laugh…let out all expressions of energy that need releasing.
It’s important to find ways to release your emotions that do not harm or hurt other people.
My favorite? Allowing myself to cry my eyes out at something completely random at any given moment (diaper commercials, sappy movies, mean comments) without attaching to the trigger.
It doesn’t really matter why I’m feeling what I feel right now, but it’s important that I feel it and allow it to be here.
Or in the case of coming home to one of the dogs having completely destroyed our front door, for no reason that I can see at all…I gave myself a good 5 minutes of letting out my emotions…at the door.
The point is: crying is good. Yelling is good. Sitting with your emotions is good.
Hiding away everything we feel until we become bitter, frustrated, sick, or we simply start overreacting every time things don’t go our way because of the excess emotional energy we carry on our shoulders…NOT good.
4. Trust your life.
I hope you are hopeful. Even though it might not look like it right now, this is the beginning of a journey leading you somewhere absolutely purposeful. So, deep breaths. Take care of yourself.
Because the only thing that matters is your well-being, that you and the people you love are safe, and that you do what you can to make this world a little brighter for people less fortunate than you.
That is literally it: well-being, the people we hold in our hearts and being of service.
Wherever you are, however you are, know that you are doing the best you can. Everything you are right now is already enough.
Keep swimming and riding the waves of life. Just like on the ocean, no wave lasts forever.
Feel what you need to feel.
Keep moving forward.
Think about it… What if everything is beautiful and unfolding in an absolutely perfect way? Meanwhile, we’re just walking around spending all this time wondering if we’re doing the right thing, if we’re good enough, if this is what life is supposed to be, if we can ever heal or let go or move on.
We’re so good at focusing so much on the what-ifs the could-haves and the should-haves, that even when we’re in the midst of absolute, total magic...we can end up missing it.
DON’T MISS IT. We only get so much magic in a lifetime. Be there for it all.
- Ask for help.
- Raise your vibration. Do at least 1 thing that the happy, at-peace version of you would do. Move your body, cook, paint, go outside, call a friend and meet up for coffee...whatever you’d do if you were feeling good. Then, do it before you can talk yourself out of it.
- Feel your feelings (without placing them on another).
- Take a deep breath, trust and look up at the sky. Don’t give up on the universe — there is magic in the unfolding, always.
Shanti shanti shanti. Peace peace peace. In this moment, how can you go where there is more peace? Share in the comments below.