Last week, after I posted my blog article and shared it on my social media, I received a treasured compliment. My soul sister remarked that she appreciated that my writing revealed both vulnerability and strength. As much as I was grateful for the comment when I first saw it, as it lay in my mind, I realized that if I am accomplishing that, I am living my grief in the manner I aspire to.

Avoiding Grief Doesn’t Get You Through It

In my prior experiences with grief, I fell into some very common pitfalls. In some instances, it was the natural, even noble, thing to let myself become so busy that there was no time to grieve.

When my first husband passed, there was overwhelming guilt awaiting me, every time I glanced at the hurt. As a result, I stopped looking. I closed the eyes of my heart as tight as I could, and I grasped at every resource I could to keep them closed.

I moved, went to college, partied, drank…anything to dodge the pain that felt too big to face.

Unaddressed Grief Festers

Unacknowledged grief, like an untended infection, festers below the surface. It tries to bubble to the surface, timidly asking for attention. The whole time I spent running from my grief I was pestered by signs and signals.

My heart and soul tried in gentle ways to get me to address the wound. I refused. Grief that remains ignored will eventually burst with all the disturbing ugliness of a popped boil. That is what happened in my life. At a time when I ‘had it all’: a loving husband, 2 amazing kids, a good job, friends… everything; I felt completely lost and hopeless.

Grief Tornados

When your pent-up emotions keep butting against the façade of normal life, they eventually spring loose, causing a tornado of uncontrollable responses. Those storms don’t wait for a convenient time, and they don’t take into consideration how many bystanders are swept up in the maelstrom.

You can direct the storm by choosing to address the pain before it begins to turn septic.

Grief Aspirations

When Errol passed, it was fortunate that I had learned through trial and error that grief avoidance was not an option. Throughout this grief journey I have committed to accepting the path my pain takes. When pain and sadness approach, I make time to acknowledge, experience and nurture the source.

Sharing Vulnerability

I confess that my blogging time is often not a time that I look forward to. Each time I sit to set these words down, it requires that I peel the bandages from my grief so that what I share is authentic. Often it is through this process that I can look honestly at my experience and give voice to my pain, confusion, joy, and discovery.

My decision to reach out a hand of support to others who grieve demands fidelity to my own experience. I can’t offer guidance down a path I have not walked myself.

Finding Strength in Grief

What has allowed me the strength I need to face the loss of my daily physical relationship with my son with vulnerability and integrity? The absolute certainty I have of 3 key Truths.

Our Soul is Eternal

First, the knowledge that the Soul is eternal is essential. Whatever resource you depend upon to confirm your hope in this Truth: Science, Spirituality, Philosophy, or Logic – all these modalities uphold the Truth of the immortality of the Soul. If you are troubled by doubts about the continuation of the Soul, I heartily encourage you to pursue research into reliable resources.

God is Love

The foundational Truth which supports a joy-filled life, no matter your circumstances is that God is real and loves us all completely and continuously. This means that as each of us closes the door on this life, and opens it onto our disembodied existence, we can emerge into the waiting arms of God.

Our Departed Remain

I am fortunate to experience the presence of my son in every day of my life. There are those who may doubt the accuracy of that belief, but my certainty is unshakable. The body of knowledge supporting my belief is huge.  It encompasses a wide range of encounters that span the globe and recorded history alike.

The knowledge that my son is still part of my life gives me strength to face every day of this life and peace of mind when contemplating my own departure from it.

Dichotomy Creates Balance

The concept that opposing forces bring balance when they act in harmony is far from new. We see the wisdom of this idea in the principles of yin and yang. The balance of day and night, the turn of the seasons, the knowledge that groups with complimenting talents work most effectively are all examples of the balance of dichotomy.

Finding that Balance

There are times when existing in a state of open vulnerability is normal, natural, and beneficial. The early days of grief often have this characteristic. The pain is too raw. There hasn’t been time or opportunity to find your strength. The unconstrained bleed of vulnerability flushes debris so healing can begin.

Once you find your strength – whatever it is for you, remember that you may return to times of increased vulnerability intermittently. The times of vulnerability that come are not signs of failing or losing ground. They are the pleas of your heart asking for time or attention. Accept these requests and try to find the specks of irritation seeking to be dislodged.

On Target

So, thank you, my friend for a compliment that has spoken to my heart. Thank you for the opportunity it afforded me to check my stride on this journey. Thank you too to each of you who read my words. It is my hope that these posts offer light and hope to you that inspires me to gather the courage I need to poke at tender scar tissue which results in my own growth and healing as well.

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Read more from Colleen on Open to Hope: The Grief of Returning – Open to Hope

Colleen Friesen

Who is Colleen Friesen? I am a proud mother, a blessed wife, a blossoming daughter, a compassionate and supportive sister and friend. I have the peace-loving, inclusive heart of a hippie which serves me well in my role as Associate Director of Human Resources at the Community-based non-profit agency that employs me. I am a prairie girl who harbours a love-hate relationship with the climate of the glorious Saskatchewan prairie that is my home. I have loved to use words to lead others along with me through my experiences – both real and imagined throughout my life. I consider myself a word crafter – sometimes choosing to paint, other times sketch, oftentimes sculpt, frequently clip/paste/gluing words and phrases together in such a way that will draw my reader into a soul-synergy with me. It is my hope that I can draw people close, so they are able to experience the reassurances, comforts, and freedoms I have found for myself. I have survived devastating losses; I have healed crushing psychological injuries and I live… I LIVE. I live a life filled with joy, love, peace, and presence. I am enjoying the benefits of years of learning, growing, forgiving, loving, and observing. It is my natural compassion and gift of observation that has led me to yearn to bring those who are suffering to the oasis of Truths that sustains me within this world of challenging experiences. The passing of my eldest son almost 2 ½ years ago coalesced my passions for writing and helping into a focused purpose. My greatest accomplishment has been parenting my sons. Both boys are beautiful souls; loving, kind, compassionate individuals who have blessed the lives of those they touch. That was not an accident nor was it easy, but it has been the most rewarding and fulfilling purpose of my life. When my first-born left this dimension, it became imperative for me to carry his beautiful spirit onward. So, now I craft words with his guidance to bring love, hope and comfort to those who grieve.

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