Dear you, I know you’re wondering how you will ever be okay again. How you’ll stand up, how you’ll smile, how a day will ever go by without spending every ounce of energy “being strong”. But I promise – you will be okay and you won’t feel like this forever. You’re going to spend the next few weeks and months obsessing and focusing on the things you think you should or need to do; writing and delivering your eulogy, climbing a mountain, talking to the people you think you need to, visiting the places that mean something. These things are important, I'm not telling you not to do them. But I am telling you not to let them consume you. Please remember to allow yourself time to grieve properly. I know how much it hurts, but you have to give yourself the time to feel it. You don't need to do anything or go anywhere that doesn't bring you some small form of comfort. Anything that causes you trauma isn't going to help you.
I so wish I could wave a magic wand for you to make this feel better... but healing takes time.
It takes patience.
It takes asking for help, and it takes understanding (in bucket loads) from others.
I know you feel fraudulent for feeling okay one day and physically not able to get out of bed the next.
It’s not fraudulent.
Other people won’t understand the waves of grief either, but some will – talk to those people.
People will assume that because you're back at work, because you're able to put a smile on your face when you need to, because went out for a few drinks with your friends or did something vaguely 'normal'... that you're okay again. You're not.
The best way to remind others that you're not okay is to tell them (easier said than done...I know).
I know it doesn't feel like it, but you will learn to live again, and you’ll learn to live differently.
You won’t believe this - you won't even want to believe this - but you are still capable of loving and being loved.
One day you'll understand. I promise.
Please lean on your friends and family, you need them more than you think.
They’re going to pick you up when you need picking up (often when you didn't realise you were even on the floor). Remember how many stupid decisions you made as a teenager as you were making your own way into the world? The ones you made as you were learning who you were?
Well, I'm afraid you’re going to make stupid decisions again.
But that’s more than okay – you’re learning to be - all over again. Collective grieving will help you more than you think. You’ll discover things that you never knew, stories that will make you laugh from the bottom of your stomach. You’ll meet friends that will become a massive part of your life.
But – and this is important - your grief is completely incomparable to anybody else’s. Do not compare how you feel with how others are feeling. You are grieving the loss of the relationship YOU had – not the relationship somebody else had. Please don’t ever forget this.
But by the same token, don't judge others on how they are dealing with their grief. They are learning to be again - just like you are.
Please don’t worry about how you think you should be feeling, or how others think you should be feeling.
DO NOT google the stages of grief.
Whatever you feel, whenever you feel, and for however long you feel it, is normal and okay. Really.
Grieving is shit. Really shit.
But, in all its shitness, you will become again.
You’ll learn to be you again.
It happens really slowly and without you really noticing.
Date anniversaries will knock the wind out of you, especially during the first year...your year of firsts.
You’ll either feel immense guilt for feeling okay, or you’ll feel the need to re-live traumatic and painful memories. This 'either/or' feeling doesn't last forever. It will take a while before a date can bring you a smile...but I promise - that day will come. I’ve started to feel pride and one day, you will too… Proud of the amazing people who have shaped you and who continue to shape you. Proud of who you have been, who you are, and who you will become. Proud of the memories; the ones you are lucky to have, the ones that live on and the ones you are yet to make. You’ll learn to cherish the awesome and inspiring people that are, and have been, in your life; the ones that made you, and continue to make you who you are.
It’s normal and okay to fear that they won’t be here tomorrow – and I promise that thought-consuming-fear-of-losing-more-people-in-your-life, well... that will ease as time goes on. It won’t keep you awake forever.
You’ll remind yourself how, even though it might hurt like hell, anniversaries like today made you a better daughter, mother, sister, friend, partner, colleague and person.
You’ll remind yourself that some of the best people you know are in your life because of dates like today.
And it’s more than okay to miss the ones that aren’t. They are the reason you are who you are.
Whether you spend the day crying, smiling, visiting church, talking about it, laughing, ignoring it, angry or not even thinking about it – that’s okay.
Whatever you need to do is okay - whether that is today, or six years on. You’ll have shit days, even years later, but they get easier - honest.
You will stand up again.
You’ll smile again, you’ll love again, you'll be loved again and you will one day understand that you can be happy again.
It doesn't feel like it now, but a day will come when you will turn around and realise that you “being strong” is just you, being... you.
This was never about strength. It was always about how lucky you are to have been blessed by others. Your grief won’t define you – people will.
I know you won’t believe a single word of this – but I promise, every single word of it is true Lots of love, Future you xx
Thank you for sharing this with us Emma. Another wonderful example of how one interaction on Twitter can turn into such a beautiful thing! Want to write for us? Contact Carly on firstname.lastname@example.org