Holding Space for Grief and Emotion

On April 21, my Nanny took her last breath surrounded by family.  She was a very special woman in my life as she and I shared a special bond.  She was one step away from being placed on the list for a liver transplant.  She was a diabetic and her liver was failing due to the medications over the years.  She was 69 years young, vibrant, beautiful, a joy to be around and was the true definition of love.

Why am I sharing this all with you?  Well, since her transition I find myself in this black fog or cloud of pure devastation and emptiness.  I am reluctant to make advanced plans or decisions. I cry a lot and I deeply miss her, I carry pain for my grandfather, my mother and her siblings and for my cousins. I think of her and I am so grateful and then I am filled with anger and defeat remember her last few days on earth.  I sit and think how can I be so full of love and joy one minute and at the exact same time full of pain, guilt and sadness.  How can death be so scary and peaceful at the same time? I thought I needed to explore this further in writing.

The day of her death I remember every move the nurse made, she listened for her heart beat, her eyes filled with love and she said “I’m sorry you guys she has passed”.  I screamed and held onto her praying it was a dream.  I remember looking down at my hands and shaking them and repeating “ wake up, wake up, its only a dream, wake up!” It wasn’t a dream, it was reality, it was real, it happened and there was nothing I could do or say, nothing would bring her life back.

Living with an anxiety type mind I felt my body going back to old patterns, asking myself “if only you said this, you should have stayed last night, she was dying alone and you didn’t even know, this never would have happened if…, what if I? STOP IT! The new patterns comes in, “you are safe, all is well”. “You are not God, you are not responsible for her living or dying, be in the moment Nicole, be present and at that same moment my heart filled with sadness”.  And so, there I sat, watching my family crying, and there was nothing I could do or say.  I sat feeling helpless and powerless because there was nothing anyone could do. All we had left were memories of love and joy and deep sadness.

I have been on an inner journey consciously for three years.  I say consciously, because we are all on a journey, the difference is when we decide to pay attention to the gifts the journey has to offer.  I have taken responsibility of the thoughts in my head, hired a coach, gained new skills and created my own wellness practice.  The loss of my Nanny has tested my old thought patterns, the person I was before would have put everyone before herself and, would have attempted to save them all from their pain.  This time, I was different, I sat in the loss, I felt the deep sense of sorrow, I cried and sobbed in my home for hours.  My partner held space for me to be in the grief and be present with it.  He said nothing but said everything at the same time.  It was the most difficult challenge for me to stay in the moment, process the feelings and avoid the “what if” statements.  What I realized was that those seven days after her transition were the most important moments for me.  I put myself first, honoured my feelings and I was vulnerable with myself.

One month has past and there I was driving on a beautiful Saturday morning to get groceries.  I  have this urge come over me to call Nanny and check in and hear about where I can go, how her day was going and hear all about the family.  Then reality sets in, and I’m overwhelmed with sadness that things just aren’t the same anymore.  I focus in on the lyrics on the radio and I hear “Oh yeah, life goes on, long after the thrill of livin’ is gone”, John Cougar Mellancamp.  I think to myself, ‘ok I get it Nanny thank you for the reminder, that even though your physical body is no longer with us you are with me every step of the way”.  I smile to myself and, I am filled with love, I remember all the memories, I feel her embrace and I see her eyes light up and her big beautiful smile.

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I believe that I am a spiritual being and that I have a deep understanding of the physical and spiritual realms that exists in this world.  I have experienced many moments throughout my life when weird things occur and there is no logical reason and I think well that was Spirit.  I trust that everything is energy and what you choose to believe will create your physical reality.  I am inspired by the soulful journey in which my soul picked this body, this life time, my parents and family because my soul is here to learn, heal and create.  I get this, I know this these are my beliefs.  However, since losing Nanny at the age and stage of my life I can’t help but question my beliefs and her transition.  I find myself searching for clues, for answers and for reasons as to why her soul left us so soon.  Imagine this, I have one mind that creates logic and, the other mind that feels the energy, the love, the excitement the feelings of life.  So part of me knows her purpose was completed and this is why her soul left.  Yet my heart, my mind and soul are experiencing sadness that no logic in the world can heal, yet; grief, is a dynamic and confusing experience.

At 28 years young, I have lost all but one grandparent and I have been present for everyone of my grandparents lasts breaths.  My mind wonders and I begin asking why I was present, why I needed to see life just leave the body so effortlessly. As if the body knew long before the end they were at peace.  My spiritual mind says all is well and my logical mind is crying out for real answers, for someone or something to blame, I'm angry, I’m hurt, I’m grieving.

After she past, people would ask how I was, I remember saying, “ I am creating a new reality”, because the truth is life will never be the same without her present.  I will never be able to call and speak to her, hear her voice and her beautiful jolly laugh, or feel her loving embrace, and somehow I will need to make peace with this reality.  In time, I will create a new reality where this physical love is no longer an option and I can be present and in the moment that I am loved, I am safe and she is with me in a deeper sense.

I think as people who experience loss and grief in all areas we need to take time and create space for a new reality to unfold.  It takes courage for us to be among those who are grieving.  Pure strength and love to be present and hold space for those of us who are grieving a loss.  I find others who are close to me are not sure how to experience the grief with me but they create space for it to happen.  Grief is unique for everyone, I have moments where I break down and cry and sob and the next moment I am expressing gratitude and joy for having the pleasure of knowing her love. It’s weird, and there is no logic for grief its a one step at a time kind of thing.  I am grateful for the people who are holding space for me to process.

I miss her everyday, and I know when I attempt to avoid the painful thoughts it leaves me feeling heavy and angry.  What has been helpful for me, is to be present with the emotion, not justify it, or feel guilty or shameful about it.  To be with the emotion as I would if my best friend were crying.  I avoid the “expectations” of when I will be ‘done’ grieving and rather I am kind and gentle towards myself.  As I sit and write this today the weather outside quickly transitioned from sunny and warm to heavy rain pouring down forcefully and to be honest that would be my experience with grief.  I stepped outside and released the sadness, I cried real hard and thanked her again for being who she was.  The rain quickly disappeared, the sun began to shine and the world keeps moving and, “Life goes on”.  This entry represents space to process and an opportunity to be in grief and joy in the same moment without reasons or logic.

I consciously choose everyday in every way to believe that “Life is a series of a thousand tiny miracles”, Greenberg.  This mantra keeps me present and accountable to my thoughts and to my self care and self love.  I am worthy and deserving of the time and space to grieve, to question and to feel her loss.  However, I also create opportunities to heal and for this I am forever grateful.

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Love you and miss you every day

Nicole Weston

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