How Grief Changed Me (A Letter on Mother's Day)
"As long as I kept moving, my grief streamed out behind me like a swimmer's long hair in water. I knew the weight was there but it didn't touch me. Only when I stopped did the slick, dark stuff of it come floating around my face, catching my arms and throat till I began to drown. So I just didn't stop." - Barbara Kingsolver
Three years ago, I couldn't outwardly explain my grief. But I know I was one of the swimmers. I intentionally kept moving so nothing stood a fighting chance of catching up with me. I couldn't face a Mother's Day without a mother.
Eventually I began to feel the grief, greeting it in the face instead of letting it lurk behind me like an ominous shadow. And the grief changed me. It made me more human. I would like to think it has carved me into a kinder person, one who is more able to understand the pain of others. Some days, like today, are still hard. But I've learned to dance with the limp.
On Mother's Day three years later, I have attempted to put into words for others to help understand grief, and for those who are currently experiencing it, a reassurance that it is okay to be sad, for sadness is as much a part of our lives as laughter.
This is not merely a letter to those who are grieving, or to those who have intimately let grief sit beside them, or to those who have lost someone so dear that the gap left behind will never fill completely. No, I hope that you find this to be much more than a letter.
It’s a silent company when words begin to fall short. A bow to your pain. A strong embrace when the earth quakes beneath your feet. A safe harbor when the waves crash. A helping hand to wring out that wet hair full of weight.
I've crossed paths with some extraordinarily kind souls when traveling who, too, have lost a parent at a young age. It wasn't coincidental. It would be easy to say we are all searching for something that we have lost. But that's not it. It's the burning desire to make every day worth something. I salute you. I understand you. I, too, know the fragility of the everyday, and how you no longer have patience for anything mundane.
I won't say make the most of today – or to try and have a good day. Instead, just have a day. Let it be draining. Slow down your purposeful distractions and let your bones feel the weight of the world. Let yourself feel empty, hollowed out. Because all of the other days will be so filled with goodness that you will be bursting at the seams. Colors will become more vibrant, steps more purposeful. Familiar faces will bring comfort. You'll hear the music play again and feel the way it fills every nook and cranny of a room. And laughter will begin to shake the dust from your soul.
Because to know great loss - is to know great love too.
Malinda Meadows is an Ohio native who was letting grief blanket her life.
She found healing through traveling and nature. She discovered changes of location led to changes in her mindset. It helped her process grief and forge a new path with greater optimism and happiness. Realizing the benefit of deliberate change, she now leads a more balanced and mindful life inspired by simple changes.
She blogs regularly at malindainthesnow.com to help others find change, however small, outside their box in order to live a happier, healthier life.