This year, I have watched too many people that I love struggle. They have struggled more than any other year I can remember, and with so many different things: with the deaths of family members. Anxiety and depression. Fear for their futures after a divisive election. Illness. Rejection.
It hurts me, so much, that they are hurting. I want to shield them from this, make these painful moments and the worst days of their lives disappear. But I know I cannot, I know that I am frozen like the rest of us on a permanently forward-moving journey. I can’t undo those things. I can’t evaporate their tears as if they never fell in the first place. And it sucks.
As I dug deep this year to try and be the person my loved ones needed me to be, I have had a lot of time to think. Grief, if you’ve been there, is such a dark place. I hope more than anything to be able to take my grieving family and friends where the light is.
Finding this place, where the light is, does not mean you can or should forget the pain you’re in. You feel this because you loved. You loved so well and generously and wholly. And so of course in the loss of that person you will feel pain. Grief is a testament to your compassion and the human connections that make life worth it. It is okay to be angry and confused and exhausted. I believe you can be all of these things in the wake of something tragic and still find where the light is.
You may not know at first that you’ve found it. You’ll discover it hesitantly at first, not wanting to believe that the world can be good when it’s taken something so special from you. But you’ll find it. In the people who reached out right when you were about to break down, or in the dog you pet on the way to class.
You’ll find it in the book that makes you forget where you were sitting and the song that says everything it was supposed to. You’ll find it in the friends of a few months who seem to know you like it’s been years. You’ll find it in the the tears that stream down your face from laughter instead of sadness. You’ll find it on the days when you were so immersed in a new project or passion that you forgot to eat anything.
Your own lungs filling and emptying with air, however, is the place I hope you can most find the reasons to carry on. Because the breaths you’re still taking mean there’s still time. Time to live gratefully and carry out what those who passed away were unable to finish. Every single heartbeat is another moment to appreciate the great love you got to have in your life, and the opportunity to generate more.
I hope you know that even the small victories are a step in the right direction. I hope you know that you can be happy again, not in the same way as before but in a deeper way that honors how strong you are. I hope you know that every positive thing you do for yourselves and others is a way to fight back against the darkness that found you.
None of this has to happen all at once; you’ve certainly got time. When you’re ready, I hope I can help you go where the light is.