January 12th, 2011. This was the start of a really horrible year for me and my family. It has been six years since that date and in those years I have never felt more despair, anger and gut wrenching fear. In these past six years I have also felt myself rise from all of the fear and anger to become stronger and have more love and acceptance for those around me. And I would trade it all for one more day with him. Is that selfish or stupid? Possibly, but I would be lying if I said otherwise.
I have learned to dance in this life without my partner. I had to learn the steps by myself. Even as I wrote that sentence I know it isn’t true. I had and still have so many people who have taught me and continue to teach me new steps to this dance. There are many days that I dance alone, though, because sometimes you have to be your own teacher and your own dance partner.
With all of that said, this post isn’t about me and my dance, today it’s about teaching the steps to others.
The last few months and even days of 2016 were gut wrenchingly difficult for some of my friends. They have lost the ones they love. Words have been said to them that, at this time, are hollow and meaningless. I know, I heard those words six years ago and I have said them in the last several months and days to my friends. They have also heard the words “I’m here if you need anything” and “Let me know if there is anything I can do for you”. These words are worse than the “I’m sorry for your loss” phrase. We say them because we don’t know what else to say, but the truth is the person or people grieving don’t know what they need. Scratch that, they do know what they need, they just can’t have it and there is no way you can give it to them. What they need is their loved one back, but that can’t happen, not in the way that they desire at this very moment.
The words have been said, the services have been completed and now life flows forward. Now you have to find a new way of living this life, you must learn a new dance. The first year is the worst because you have to celebrate all the holidays and surprising life moments without the ones you love. You don’t know how to dance without them because it has been so long since you’ve had to, so you stumble and fall your way through it and the whole time the music keeps playing as if nothing has happened. Remember this, it may feel like you are all alone and that nobody cares that you are hurting, but that is not true, you just cannot see them clearly through the fog that covers the dance floor. They are there and they are helping you when you stumble, listening to your sobs and offering comforting hands and words and they pick you up when you fall. You may not remember them later as the fog begins to clear, but they were there, teaching the new steps that your heart refuses to accept at this moment.
The coming years will be difficult and you will fall many, many times. The steps to this new dance, this new way of living, are difficult to learn. As you learn to dance alone I want you to remember, you will smile again, laugh again, and even enjoy life again. There is no shame in that, but do it on your own terms. Do not let someone else tell you that you have grieved enough. Do not let you hold yourself in the fog of grief, either. Remember too, that when you feel like you are falling down reach out, because there are people who will hold you up until you can stand again. You are not alone.
The coming years will be difficult and you will have to learn how to dance once more. Until then, just see to your basic needs, these are the primary steps to this new dance. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water, eat, breathe and put one foot in front of the other. I love you all!