I have experienced deep loss. I have mourned alongside friends, family and clients who have also experienced deep loss.
Through the journey, I have heard these words repeatedly…
“I just feel like I am so different than I was before my loss.”
I have heard these words pour from the mouths of friends, and I have heard these words pour from my own mouth.
For those of you that have walked your own grief journey, you know that these words can often be laced with shame and the idea that we need to get back to the person we were before our world was shaken.
No one should be expected to rise up out of the ashes looking the same as they did before the fire.
And yet, we often place that expectation on ourselves.
When we struggle to accept that grief changes us, we can often go into emotional or physical hiding, believing that the changes are unacceptable to us and assuming they will be unacceptable to others. We may believe that our people will not love us with our bumps and bruises or that they will grow weary of our tears.
Buying into these beliefs typically lead to emotional numbing, hopelessness, deep depression, or prolonged isolation from others.
I remember many years ago, following the loss of my daughter, I began to hesitantly express to friends that I felt like a different person since her death. I was scared to tell them…maybe I assumed they’d agree and point out all of the flawed ways I had in fact changed.
Of course, they didn’t.
The reality is…my people are good. They are loving. They saw my heart. They saw my pain. And they knew that I was rising up out of the ashes. They actually didn’t expect me to be the same as before her death.
They told me that I was okay…
needing more alone time.
being less productive.
needing more sleep.
crying at random times.
excusing myself from overwhelming conversations and situations.
feeling things that they didn’t understand.
They helped give me permission to accept that grief was messy and that this was okay. They helped me believe that finding my “new normal” didn’t need to be a smooth process. They helped me trust that I didn’t need to hide the scars of my loss.
And the more I believed this, the more grace I extended to myself as I continued to walk the journey. The more I accepted the grace available along the journey, the more I could find the strength to keep leaning into the healing offered and the more I could trust that something good and acceptable could emerge from the ashes.
If you are the mourner and you have yet to take the risk of sharing with your people the ways loss is changing you, I encourage you to consider that your people might want to know you, bumps, bruises, scars and all.
When we let our people see us, we allow our people to love us.