Grief is a strange and powerful emotion. Many people experience some form of grief in their lifetime and may not realise it. Losing a job, divorce, or a horrible break up, to losing a pet are a few examples. For some the grief lasts a short while and for others they reel in pain and heartache for many years thinking there is no hope.
For me, when Matt passed away I had no idea the type of relationship I would form with grief. During the first few months, I thought if I wasn’t crying or showing some sort of emotion that resembled pain, I must be grieving wrong. I thought maybe something was wrong with me, didn’t Matt mean the world to me? So why wasn’t I crying every second of the day? Why did I have days where I had more energy than I had felt in years? I felt guilty when I could make it through a day without fighting back tears and managed to smile. I figured as a widow mourning the loss of a husband, it was my duty to cry for as long as I could to show the world just how much Matt meant to me.
After reading a couple of books that dealt with loss I learned a valuable bit of information. Mourning is a way of coping for those left behind, yes we know that… However, Matthew was not benefitting by me wasting away my days crying for him. My grief was for me only, no one else. I had to learn that I had nothing to prove to anyone. If people wanted to judge me because my actions wouldn’t resemble those of a “typical widow,” let them. Learning that my journey through grief was mine alone and prolonging my suffering because I felt it was necessary to prove my love doesn’t serve any justice to me or Matthew.
To truly honour Matt and his legacy, I would be doing myself a disservice to sit and cry and dwell on the future we will never have together. Yes, it is beyond painful and difficult to carry on with life when all you can think about is your past and the future life you were planning together. The greatest deal of depression and anxiety comes from either living in the past or being too concerned with the future. I had to reëxamine my grief and notice where I was struggling the most. Finding outlets and new ways to deal with my pain was my first course of action. That is where writing started to work its magic, Matt was always my greatest inspiration and muse, so words started flowing freely. I also started using a method a therapist had suggested to me.
I started to focus my thoughts on positive memories and living in the present moment. When an image from the night Matt passed away popped into my head, I would quickly start to think of a moment in our time together where we traveled to Byron Bay. I had to retrain my brain to move away from negative imagery and self-defeating thoughts. Once I was able to shift my thoughts, I would tell myself, “I am still here and I can take control of my life.” Taking a moment to notice my surroundings, helped bring me back into the present moment. Life is all about living in the now. I am surviving, I am breathing, I can do this.
Now don’t be mistaken, I am in no way running from my grief or suppressing it by changing my thought pattern. I experience massive highs and extreme lows at any given moment of the day. By retraining my brain to focus on the now and the beauty my relationship with Matt held, it opens my heart and mind to see the world in a different light. Fear starts to lessen and I am able to explore how to love wholeheartedly and express gratitude easier. I am able to feel a deeper sense to the meaning of my life and my path. Also, by thinking realistically and grounding myself with hope for my future, I am able to find strength and determination.
Lastly, I have started down the path of forgiveness. Matthew’s spirit doesn’t want me to grieve for longer than I truly need, or blame myself for his death. Matt is not watching over me saying, “Kristina you should have loved me better.” He is not saying, “Matt, you could have loved her better.” He is watching over me, loving me, all of me. He is not judging me or himself, he is accepting all that happened in our life together, the good and the bad.
If I could learn to forgive myself for my shortcomings in our relationship and move away from the blame and guilt, I can free my heart to focus my attention on building a better relationship with myself, those around me and of course with Matt. I learned that just because Matt is not physically with me, his spirit remains and our love transcends into eternity. There is comfort in knowing that true love never dies. There is comfort in knowing that just because a person passes away, doesn’t mean your relationship ends. It takes on a different form and it can still be rewarding if you are open your heart and mind and are willing to look deeper than ever before.