Chrysalis of Grief – A Personal Narrative on Grief
Written by Lauryn Evans
For as long as I can remember, echoes of grief have traveled through my bones. I was introduced to grief at a young age and met the diverse complexities that followed me throughout my life. From holding death at the age of five and witnessing the act of death at six, one of my earliest experiences of grief came to be. Death, what is it? How is it that something you love, someone you love, can be here one second and gone the very next? How do you make sense of the complexities of mortality at such a young age? You don’t.
Love and loss walk hand-in-hand – this is something I know to be true. However, as I grew, loved, and of course, lost, I learned that the relationship between love and loss was not what I once believed. Just because I love something does not mean I will lose it. It does not mean that my love will kill them or it. My love is not the catalyst of my loss. I once believed that withholding my love was a means of protection for those around me and myself. I had convinced myself that not loving at all was better than losing someone or something you loved, and oh boy, was I ever wrong. This grief, in turn, created a whole different form of grief born from the things that I never did, said, and all that I refused to feel. Grief had made a home in me, and one of my greatest senses of comfort existed in my grief; I did not know who I was or who I could have been without my grief.
It felt as though grief had plagued me, and much of the grief I felt I carried had existed before I ever even came into this world. I had a lot to unlearn, but that also meant I was creating new space for what was finally being given room to grow. I had to lay parts of myself to rest so that new parts could be given life. Creating space and allowing myself to truly mourn and grieve authentically allowed light to shine through the cracks of what I once believed to be a broken foundation just waiting to collapse. It was not a bottomless pit of darkness that laid below a fractured foundation of self; it was everything begging to get out. Pleading to be embraced with warmth instead of being hidden away. It was everything that so desperately wanted to be seen, but was neglected because it felt safer to abandon them rather than to accept them.
Everyone will experience loss and grief at some point in their life. You can try to escape it, avoid it, and ignore it, but she will be there waiting and does not wait until you are prepared. Grief, much like death, does not wait until you are ready to experience them. They strike at moments in your life that stop you in your tracks and hit you like a freight train, and commonly we ask ourselves, why me? Why did this happen to me? Yet, when we ask ourselves this question, we don’t always realize that it isn’t just us – others, too, hear grief’s whispers when they close their eyes. We often fail to recognize that we are not alone in our suffering.
Grief does not only come to exist through the deaths of those you have loved and cared for. There is grief in our lost opportunities, failed relationships, lost jobs, the experiences we may never get, and the pets that our shared time has come to an end with. Grief is a universal experience. In one way or another, grief, too, has touched you. It may not be the same form or wave of grief washing over you that has washed over others, but it provides a sense of understanding of a universal emotion and experience. An emotion that when beared witness by someone else allows us to feel seen, heard, and most importantly, we hopefully learn we do not have to carry this ache alone or in silence.
Have you allowed yourself to feel your grief wholly and genuinely? Allowing her waves to wash across your body and heart; sitting with her and listening to all she has to share. Grief is not there because you lost, but she is there because you loved, you cared, and you felt. As painful as grief is, she, too, deserves to be felt. Not just stored away or treated as something to run away from. If you listen to grief, you may, in turn, learn something about yourself, others, or the world we are all trying to navigate.
Grief is not just darkness, pain, and loss. There is beauty in grief. At times you may have to search for it yourself, but it is not all ugly. Much of the beauty of grief only presents itself in retrospect. It is in grief that so many people and things continue to live; sometimes, our grief is the closest we can get to these people and things. Whether it is the grief of a failed friendship or the grief of a recently deceased loved one, it will not always hurt the same.
Grief will come back to visit – when you hear your old friend’s favourite song, when you read a book your brother would have loved, during your first holiday, or even the ninth, without someone you once shared it with. Grief will stop by to say ‘hello.’ Welcome her. Treat her as you would an old friend. She has come to visit again to remind you of your depth, love, and care. There are beautiful memories in grief. The laughter you shared with your first love, the dreams and aspirations your younger self once had, the baked goods your grandma always baked just because she knew you loved them.
Understanding my grief was my first step toward mending my relationship with myself and the universe. I needed to create a safe space for my grief, both externally and internally. I needed to feel comfortable with my grief to be able to sit with her, but my grief also needed to feel comfortable with me so she knew I would not abandon her again. I needed to understand that I was not alone in this struggle and that many others were struggling with their own grief. When I opened my eyes to grief, I began to see the world and others differently. We are all humans with different, intricate life experiences, and we cannot possibly understand the depths or pains of others, but we can offer kindness and space for all one another is carrying. If there is one thing I have learned in this journey thus far, it is to approach things you do not understand with kindness, not with judgment.
Grief serves purpose, and at times it feels easier to ignore her ache; to continue to move through our lives as mere imitations of who we were before. To grieve is not to forget; it is remembrance and honour, and it is the continuation of love. Allow your grief to take up space and listen to what she has to share with you. Grief, too, is wise.