There is no time stamp for grief… that’s what everyone says but it doesn’t feel that way. For some reason as the months and years go by there is an expectation that I should be getting better, that somehow time has “healed” me, but it has not. The definition of heal: to become sound or healthy again. Grief cannot be healed. Grief does not one day disappear or gradually fade away. Grief stays.
It’s been 4 1/2 years and I’m starting to feel a different emptiness without Eliza. She seems so much further away. I have now lived without her longer than I lived with her and its terrifying and lonely. It sometimes feels like she was never here, like she is just a beautiful little girl in a fairytale. This feeling is more than just “missing”, it’s a feeling that doesn’t even have a word to describe it. Some nights when I’m drifting off to sleep out of nowhere my heart will just drop, almost like it did on the day she went to heaven. It’s the feeling that I lost something, that I’m searching desperately and then I realize I’ll never get it back. Grief is so hard. Losing Eliza is so hard. I try to imagine something harder, I did that a lot in the earliest days of loss, but I can never find anything close. I am so much more fragile now, at any moment I could actually fall apart. But somehow at the same time I’m so much stronger because now any other sorrow or loss pales in comparison.
So this last year I have really started to figure out how to live like this, how to live with this immense suffering. I have started by forgiving myself every morning. Forgiving myself for the things I didn’t know or say or do when Eliza was here. Forgiving myself for thinking that I didn’t do enough. Forgiving myself for not being here on that terrible day. Everyday I have to practice sitting in these feelings, not trying to push them away or cover them up. Everyday I have to remind myself that I am not alone, that there are others who have come before me. Others that are walking this road unseen by most. Fortunately my senses have become acutely aware of those suffering in the same way and I will gladly walk beside them any day.
So there really is no time stamp for this, that would mean that there is an end to my love for Eliza. It would mean that the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me somehow ended when her life on earth did. Eliza was my heart, she was every part of it and now this grief is part of me, it is completely intertwined with everything else that I am. I am kind, happy, funny and grieving. I know now that I can be all of those things.
And finally, I think I’m ok with that.