Grief stays with us, but so does love.

This is your 12th birthday in heaven, somewhere over the rainbows. Just like every birthday since your first one in heaven, I baked you something special to celebrate. Something sweet, to remember your sweet soul by.

Your doll, loving you forever.

Grief doesn’t come with a handbook or a set of instructions. There’s no guaranteed way out of grief or a right way to grieve. Some of us mourn longer than others and find a way to move forward, some of us simply live in denial, some of us ache in the silent void. While we all deal with it in different ways, grief stays with you.

My dad’s birthday is one of those many occasions where I feel the tears but I also feel the sun shining down on me.

12 years on, the sadness of losing my father still consumes me. There are days when I feel sad but mostly okay. There are also days when my heart aches with longing. Every now and then, the loss feels so heavy in the room. But then again, so does his presence. In those moments, his memory is reassuring. Our memories together are comforting. While the grief feels endless, our love is eternal.

This joyful day is a reminder that grief stays with us, but so does love.

Through my own lived experience, grief is born out of love. We grieve because we love with all our heart and soul. It is the love we so deeply feel and want to share but cannot. The way I see it, grief…is love. Love that presents itself in different forms – the loss of a loved one, heartbreak, loss of a job, loss of good health. Loss that stems from love – for a person, for our passion, for our life. It is all this love we have to give, that hurts most.

It’s okay to hold on to this grief and love and take it with you wherever you may go. For it moulds you and helps you grow. The loss hurts but love heals. It took me a long time to grow in grief and understand its impact on the self and life. To understand that love wins over grief. And that the light does find us after the loss.

I didn’t understand it at first. I was angry, I was hurting, I was in pain. But when the sun finally rises again the next day, and then again the day after that, I rose too. It hurt at first but eventually, it felt okay. It didn’t feel great, it never does but I felt okay. And okay is a good place to be.

If you’re grieving, no matter the loss, know that the light will find you. Know that the love still stays with you. Even as you experience grief in the best way you know how, we are all with you.

May we grow in grief and may the love live within us. May it strengthen us, may it hold us, may it heal us.

Don’t dream it’s over

Try hard and then, try harder.

It’s been three years since I quit my job with these grand plans of studying, working and living in Australia – looking for opportunities that let my talents shine and further challenged me to discover ones I never knew I had. What was originally supposed to be a great adventure and step towards my career and personal goals, turned into a hard-hitting reality check. Jobs weren’t easy to find and living here was a daily hustle. Homesickness came in waves and the winters were gloomy reminders of lonely lows.

Time has just flown by since and the fact that it’s been a while since I moved here has made me more contemplative. I went around in circles, wondering…what is my life purpose? What am I passionate about? Why am I not moving ahead with what I thought I wanted to do? I guess, there’s no one thing – you change, you grow, you adapt. You don’t just go by the book; you write your own too.

I’ve been the first to point out every downfall and roadblock. But reality check aside, these past three years have also been amazing and such an eye-opener in so many ways. I have learnt and done things I never imagined I’d be interested in or manage – sharing a house with a stranger, cooking, moving to the countryside, working with sheep and cattle, going to concerts alone, solo travel, embracing different cultures – some big and unexpected lifestyle changes. These may seem irrelevant but really, they’ve taught me skills outside of any desk job or cliché success story. It taught me to be patient, resilient and creative to find solutions in difficult situations. It taught me to be empathetic and grateful.

Life lessons come in different shapes and forms. It took all of that and more to finally get ahead of my set ways and pride and think outside the norm. It look many rejections to really think about my purpose and work hard to get to a point where I could action it.

As I see it, after all this time, don’t dream it’s over.

In trying to fulfil others’ check-boxes I kept denying myself the opportunity to grow and truly realise my potential. It took stripping myself off all of those preconceived notions and any pride to let myself really conquer my fears but also showcase my talent and potential.

Don’t let anyone else dictate your journey because they’re not the ones living it. You are and so you should, on your own terms.

Photo by Danielle MacInnes on Unsplash