My journey into grief began in December 2019. My husband, Matt, died unexpectedly while our kids were home from college for the holiday break. Matt’s death revealed a drug addiction he’d been dealing with for years. He used drugs and alcohol to medicate trauma from his childhood and to escape emotions too big for this bear of a man to deal with on his own. Matt was resilient and intelligent. He filled my heart and my days with his giant personality and laughter. But his death showed us there was something bigger and stronger than even him. Our daughter found him the day he died. Our son had been blissfully unaware of any addiction issues. Unleash the mom guilt as well as the anger, confusion and immense sadness that comes with dealing with a death caused by drug addiction.
In July, my dad died. Mom wasn’t able to see him once he went into the hospital or say goodbye. My parents were married 56 years this year … my husband and I were married on their 30th wedding anniversary. Mom and Dad were always a team … they did everything together from refinishing furniture to finish each other’s sentences. That’s the short list of 2020’s lessons. Thanks, you really shouldn’t have.
- Seek joy. Some days you choose joy. Some days you will have to actively seek it out. Other days, you’ll need to hunt it down like a hungry lion stalking the last gazelle on the open savannah.
- Find your friends. You know the ones. The ones you can cry with and laugh with until your cheeks hurt, often on the same day. Spend time with them.
- Accept help. You can’t do it all. If someone offers to rake the leaves in your yard, let them. You are likely doing them a service by letting them be of service … but you should still thank them.
- Serve someone. See above. Serving someone else is often the best way to find the joy you seek. Go do something nice for someone.
- Indulge in something. Find your indulgence and … indulge. Small joys feed your soul and give you something to look forward to.
- Let go of the deadweight before it pulls you under. Stop pursuing toxic relationships with people, things, ideas. Drop those anchors and cut them loose.
- Laugh and love wastefully. The universe will make more. So, give it away generously and freely. Instead of holding on to hate and anger, spew laughter and love into the universe.