“If you don’t know where you’re going – any road will get you there” Lewis Carroll
It just got real. The first year is over — now what? As if the first months and weeks after your loved one dies weren’t enough of a tsunami, the waves of the next one can flatten you. The reality of loss stands even starker after the fog clears of the first year. And the stabbing knowledge that they are never, ever coming back is even more acute; more glaring in everything you do.
Welcome to the real — After.
You are at ground zero. Like it or not, life created a new you and only you can decide what you’re going to do about it. Not gonna lie – sometimes all this change and reinvention completely sucks. Boy, do I know. But there’s only one way to go and that’s forward. Sometimes, people won’t understand your choices; sometimes even you won’t. Hey, that’s life – and you have a right to your own stamp on it. Often family or old friends may not understand the new you. Maybe they are as afraid of your relationships running on different tracks, apart from the status quo and that’s understandable. Change, as we know well – is scary. But life has done a teensy makeover on you, (read ‘mammoth’) propping you up in a brand new world. You alone will figure out how to navigate it.
No, you don’t need to make a long list of resolutions. That’s way too exhausting. Besides, don’t you think we already got the message that man plans and God laughs? Still, it’s a big help to look forward with intention. Thinking of something positive you want to accomplish, to learn, to do are the best ways to fly without a map yet still have a path to guide you. Decide who YOU want to be, what you want to do. You have the opportunity to reinvent yourself if you want to – or just expand on the original model. Want to travel more? Book it, Dano. Learn French cooking? There’s an adult ed class for every yen and macaron. Learning my damn cameras better has been on my ‘to do’ list for years and it’s on the top of my list for 2017.
Trust your judgement. You know what you want to do. Trust yourself to get it and do it – your way.
You are and always were a complete person. Forget that swoon-worthy Jerry McGuire line ‘you complete me’. Your spouse fell in love with the real, complete you; a whole person who joined with another whole person; We may think of our ‘other’ as our other half but in truth, they wanted us because of who we were when we began the journey. And we are still that person, a little battered, dented but what’s under the hood has always been there.
You will never forget where you came from or the love who sat next to you on that journey. Your rear view mirror holds every bit of life before death rudely cut you off. (Cue the well placed cursing with the windows up you know you do) But then, as Paulo Coelho said ‘Straight roads do not make skillful drivers’. I think the magnitude of grief and every thing it steam rolls under it, might put us in competition with Mario Andretti — just well below the minimum speed limit.
You might still be Driving While Grieving but lane changes are okay. You’re in the driver’s sea. You’ve passed that devastating first year and you’re still standing. Ready or not you’re now in the long After. Take a breath. Cry if you need to (it’s more than okay) — and move forward.
Time heals nothing unless you move with it.