This past week marked 19 years since my beloved Carmella passed away. For me she is still a very strong presence in my life. I feel her every day and she is a guide to me when I need support. I bring her transition up this year because the anniversary this year came with its own wave of grief and uncovering of layers to still be understood, witnessed and loved. Grief is a multidimensional experience that can show up in unexpected ways and many layers and threads. It can come from a moment in time or be passed on from generations before. Grief can be from a loved one passing, a dissolved relationship, a loss of the life you thought you would lead, oppression, illness, injury and so many other moments in life. Its presentation is dynamic, and it can show up in small ripples or feel like it takes you over like a tsunami that shows up when you least expect it. It is not linear. It may have been 19 years but at moments it can feel like it was yesterday.
Sometimes the grief doesn’t show up alone, but it brings friends with it like survivors’ guilt, sadness, anger, loneliness, etc. They start to inhabit the crevices within oneself created by the grief. Here is where we have options. We can let it consume us or we can feel into our experience and reclaim those crevices to fill them with what we need to heal. This isn’t a process to be rushed and the timeline is solely up to the individual.
Though the timing is up to the individual it isn’t something that you have to go through alone. We heal in community and being witnessed by others can be incredibly powerful. I know it may sound scary to let others see what you are experiencing and feel vulnerable. So, I offer this alternative perspective. Letting someone else in can allow them to see you and hold you in your wholeness when you may be having a hard time embodying that yourself. They can help hold the door open until you are ready to walk through it. You are not alone.
Everyone’s journey with grief will be unique. I am so grateful for all those that have helped me. The day Carmella left her physical body changed me in ways I didn’t understand until much later with the help of many people and horses. Carmella and I had one bad jump and that moment changed everything. It led to her passing a month later. The story that was on loop in me was that we were in the same moment together but why was I still here and she wasn’t. There was survivor’s guilt, sadness, deeply missing my best friend, a need to prove I was worthy of still being here and feeling heartbroken. It left me in an unconscious place of penance, and I was making life choices from that energy. I was still my optimistic life loving self but felt like I had a little less spark.
I came to fully understand this many years ago and it was a game changer. It involved a deep act of forgiveness and self-love. As a result, a weight was lifted off my chest and I was able to start to heal the places inside me that had taken all of that on. I could breathe easier and the memories of her were no longer tainted with the guilt I had once felt. I could celebrate our time together. Carmella is part of my everyday life and gives me so much strength when I think of her. I am a better human and living my purpose in a deeper way because I had the privilege of knowing her. I can miss her, love her and live my life to the fullest all at the same time!
I hope that in reading a bit of my story you will know that you are now alone, and that healing is possible.