Years ago, someone once said to me something that has long stuck with me: “There is no expiration date on grief.”
And while I thought I had a grasp on what they meant, it wasn’t until recently I truly understood the meaning behind those seven words.
You see, my life has been tumultuous. There’s been loved ones lost to cancer, heart disease, depression. I’ve lost loved ones due to changes in our lives. I’ve lost loved ones due to one of the genres I write. The always present end of relationships due to waning interest. Relationships and experiences draw to a close, either abruptly or naturally.
And despite the times when loss equated me wondering how I’d draw my next breath, the strangest thing happened: the sun rose and set each day. Friends went on with their lives. Strangers laughed over whatever had hit their tickle bone. All those things continued on, despite my shattered heart.
Grief is unlike surgery. A surgeon can perform an operation and state the range of time it should take to heal, the range of time until you feel normal. Grief? Grief is something we can’t determine the length of time on. It’s over and eased and we look back in gratitude that its over. And then something happens: you see a type of flower, you hear something, you come across a photo, and it’s back, just as fresh as it was when it first happened. There’s no way to ease it, erase it, or speed up the process. You simply have to grit your teeth and endure.
The largest mistakes of my life have been healing on other people’s time lines, of putting their ideas of when I should be healed and over something above my need to experience my own grief process. And finally, at age thirty-eight, I’ve learned an exceptionally important lesson that I should have learned a long time before: my heart break is my heart break, and the healing process is mine. However I go about it, it’s a process I need to experience for myself. Because healing on other’s timelines and for other’s comfort isn’t healing for myself.
I own my hurt and heartbreak for my losses in this life. And I demand of others the respect to do so on my terms.
Love and life,