Through tears she asks, “Does the pain ever go away?” She misses her mother and I also know the unique and powerful void. I wish I could tell her it does, but that isn’t the truth. I wish I could ease her pain and comfort her heart, but I know those are impossible tasks.
I hug her tightly without saying a word. In time I’ll respond, but first she needs this– silence and an intentional embrace. She needs to know that I’ll sit with her in her brokenness and not demand it be fixed or tucked away. She needs to know that her new companion, grief, is just as welcome as she is and will always be.
Softly, I say: “I wish I could tell you the pain diminishes or that it fades with time, but the truth is that the pain stays, just like the longing. Eventually, it gets easier to bear and less tender to the touch. It becomes less open and raw and with time heals like a scar, the kind you hold forever.”
I gently rub her hand and continue, “I hate that you now know this pain and this loss. I hate that you hold the incomprehensible ache that comes with losing someone irreplaceable. I wish I could help you. I wish I could lessen your heartbreak and ease the whirlwind that is sure to be happening within your soul, a storm no one can see.”
“When the world makes you feel like you need to pretend you’re stronger than you are, braver than you are, more resilient than you are, or further along in your healing than you actually are, know that I never will. Your grief and pain are just as welcome as your happiness and your wholeness. With me, you never have to tuck away your heart and soul’s most authentic and vulnerable pieces. They’re welcome, always.”
“I will never lie to you about the endless aspects of grief. I’ll never be untruthful about the unpredictability of loss and the chaos that finds you no matter how much time has passed. You will only heal when you understand the raw truth of the future ahead of you. One day you’ll smile again, but it will feel foreign and clouded by guilt. One day you’ll feel joy and happiness again but I can’t tell you when, for the timelines are yours and yours alone.”
“There is still so much purpose in your path and significance in your life. On your hardest days, gratitude will help remind you of the beautiful gifts of love you possess. Notice I say possess because they are still yours and they are still here. They stay always, the love and the memories. They will become the replacements to the lifeline that’s just been stolen from you.”
“So, friend, the harsh truth is that the pain will never go away. It stays, always. It simply shifts and transforms with time, just like you’ll find yourself shifting and transforming. Your grief is immense because you were blessed with a forever love, the kind that stay beyond last breaths and final heartbeats. You hurt powerfully because you loved and were loved powerfully.”
“The beautiful truth is that you now hold not just grief but the legacy of someone unforgettable. Her last act of love was handing down her legacy to you. Your final act of love will be creating something with it.”
“And friend, you have me, always, to help you carry all of those things.”
A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.