This fall will mark FIVE YEARS since my parents passed away in that car accident. When I say it out loud, it seems so long ago, – but, when I experience moments of missing them, it feels like it all just happened.
I may be mistaken in my analogy here, but I feel like the grief process was almost completely out of my control for the first 3 years. Once the jury trial in August of 2020 came to a close, however, and we were finally able to stop talking about all the gory details, re-living the experience through photos and videos, re-enacting their final moments and the actual cause of their deaths, I was finally able to move forward in making peace with what happened and decide to finally heal.
Yes, you read that right. I made the conscious DECISION to heal – because I finally realized that I didn’t have to suffer anymore, nor did I deserve to endure that emotional burden and pain. Nothing good could come of that, continuing down that path. I had literally walked to the edge of that proverbial cliff… and decided that I didn’t want to jump. And just like that, I made up my mind. It was time to stop making myself suffer.
Do you see what I did there? I took ownership of my feelings, my participation in constantly inflicting emotional pain upon myself and was, therefore, finally able to move beyond it, into the process of healing. There is value in experiencing pain, even repeatedly – because eventually you will realize that it will never change until you take the steps necessary to change it. There is no time limit for how long this cycle will take, and please do not judge yourself or others who are involved in this process, as well, because the emotional pain you (and they) feel is very real. You can not move on from this until you, yourself, are ready.
It has taken me quite a long time, myself. I do not possess any super human strength or special knowledge unbeknownst to the rest of the world. I have simply been challenging my mind to become more aware and capable of processing through emotions without becoming attached to any outcome or allowing myself to become mentally “stuck” by burdening myself with the opinions and viewpoints of others as to how this “should” be done.
I consider myself lucky to have had my sister with me through it all – sharing the impact of this great loss, as well as, all the details and legal processes that followed.
I consider myself lucky to have had my therapist, qualified to counsel me through these tumultuous years – well-versed in mindfulness, qualified in trauma therapy, and so naturally calm and caring.
I consider myself lucky to have had my husband, my team at work, and all of my friends – who love me unconditionally and never see my emotions as weakness but, rather, as proof of my love and a testament to my strength.
I cannot speak for your experiences, nor can I tell you how long your own grief process will last. I can simply share with you my own story, and assure you that you will heal when you are ready to – not when “they” say that you should.