GRIEF GRIEF GRIEF GRIEF GRIEF GRIEF GRIEF...
That word beats into my brain day in day out; it pounds on my heart and has ripped out any normalcy that may have existed in my life. I can taut the origin or definition of the word 'grief' but what interests me more is that it is considered a noun; referring to a person, place, thing or idea.
This past year grief has been a person, has been a place, has been a thing and prior to January 1st, 2017 was an idea I dreaded to experience but knew was inevitable. Leading up to the first anniversary of Sophia's passing, the anticipation nearly killed me. My chest hurt; piercing, stabbing, searing pain right through to my back...I was sure my heart was really going to break and I would drift off into the same unknown ether as Sophia.
I found myself longing to be back in the room she passed; and honoured her passing sitting in a comfy chair at Canuck Place Children's Hospice. Walking back into that space seeing the same nurse who was on that day, Roxy, the cook in the kitchen, the same counsellor tending to my needs, it was deja vu. The only thing missing was Sophia...and while we lit a candle in the window at 8:45am, the ache of missing her skin, her smell, her laughter, bore into my throat and I sobbed missing my daughter.
This past year has been a life lesson, for sure. People showed up when I least expected it and those I expected, just didn't show, still don't show. I allowed myself to be bullied, allowed others to dictate how this year was going to unfold, and found myself catering to everyone else's needs...only to be told I am selfish, manipulative, oh and my favourite...'get over it, move on' from people who never had the same relationship I had with Sophia. From people who over the course of Sophia's life, didn't show up or really understand the enormity of what caring for her entailed.
On the contrary, I also experienced the extraordinary compassion and love of people. The group of women who showed up are selfless, remain unintimidated by my sorrow, and have allowed their own vulnerability to marry my own creating a community of strength, resilience, support, laughter and a lot of wine...
My best friends became my family when we needed each other most.
And I found love...true, honest, deep, love from someone who has not left my side despite my pushing, despite my crazy, our crazy My heart beats deeper because of who they are and the unconditional love and adoration that has become the foundation of our relationship; decades in the making.
So this year of grief has passed. Another one to follow, by another, and another, and another. This is the journey of a bereft parent. Grief doesn't end and gratefully our understanding of grief is changing. The concept of living grief begins well before our loved one passes and the experience becomes a part of our life for ever more.
The day of Sophia's celebration of life Harris Barn become covered in bald eagles; dozens and dozens of eagles. When an eagle appears you are on notice to be courageous and stretch your limits. Sophia was the epitome of courage and stretching her limits. She believed she could be capable of anything.
This next year I can only hope that living grief continues to shape my life and those in it. Sophia was one of a kind and loved deeply. She found joy amid suffering, laughter at every crazy thing, she loved living and like the eagle, who soars higher than any other bird, Sophia soared higher than anyone I have ever known.
I would be doing her an injustice if I let the grief and loss wash away my own life, or the life of those who have endured one of the hardest years I have ever experienced. I know it is going to continue being a challenge. I know that people will come and go, disappoint and surprise. But the depth of love that Sophia shared endures...in those who love her and in those Loved Sophia.
Consider this an invitation to come join me on the journey...
Beverley Pomeroy is an awarded and highly sought after Community Engagement Strategist, Speaker, Author of Living Grief; The Profound Journey of Ongoing Loss. Beverley’s community service began with a fifteen year career in private health care working for MDS Inc (LifeLabs). This community health care role developed her acumen not only for serving people in need, but also her strength in business management and organizational renewal.