I spent the last two weeks in debilitating pain that demanded me to feel it. Not just my physical pain, but the emotional pain I’ve been carrying as well. Although I’ve been scared to face it, I had no choice but to do just that.
The pain introduced itself to me as grief. Grief of all things, people and places that I have lost over the years. Sitting with these feelings can be uncomfortable especially when you try to deal with them on your own and on your own terms. Grief is such a misunderstood notion. I associated it with feeling bad. In reality, it is about how we cope with loss.
There is no wrong or right way of dealing with grief, but there are some gnarly side effects if you choose not to deal with it. I believe for me it manifested in my body. The emotional pain turned it into a physical one quickly after hearing about losing another loved one to cancer.
The day before I was set to travel to Mistissini my body decided it wouldn’t make the nine-hour trip, which broke my heart. During the debilitating pain it was easy to be hard on myself. Especially when I couldn’t make the funeral of yet another family member this year.
My mind was quick to judge and started being angry with my body. Which I knew wasn’t the attitude I needed to get better. So, I had to practice a lot of self-compassion and patience with myself.
It wasn’t easy adopting a more positive mindset when you’re dealing with pain. I had to be so mindful of my mind and body at a time when I didn’t want to. I had to sit alone in grief.
I watched life from my window and phone while I was recovering. A calmness took over a little bit more each day. I was regaining my strength, mobility and independence. My spirit was also getting better and brighter.
I had some friends visit me. They were the perfect people to come through during my time of grief. We were sitting outside on my balcony, and I shared my appreciation for having them as guests in my home. They understood me, they saw me and encouraged me to write about it and share. They knew I was struggling to write something for The Nation.
My friend was moved by how I articulated my pain and grief. She said, “Allison, when you are ready, please write about this because so many people need to hear it. Use this for inspiration.”
Her encouragement gave me what I needed to write this. So many times, we feel we are alone in this pain that grief brings. We pretend it’s not there or we add it to a to-do list that never gets a second glance until something forces you too.
I heard a beautiful sentiment: grief is love with no place to go. If you google it, it will show you why it warmed my heart. I have so much grief that I never had to deal with it alone before. Living in your community allows you to be there for the goodbyes and to say goodbye beside your loved ones. I didn’t realize how much I was so used to grieving with my family, friends and community. It was the only way I knew how.
Living in the city can be tough for a lot of reasons but this is one I didn’t foresee. I didn’t realize how much those hugs, cries, laughter and stories help me grieve. I didn’t know how to do that on my own. I just knew that both my physical and emotional pain needed me to be present.
When the calmness came, it came with my loved ones from the other side – to remind me I’m not alone in this. That comforted me and brought me closer to them. I have to remind myself to carry them with me everywhere I go.
American writer and activist Maya Angelou wrote, “You don’t go alone. Bring your people with you. Bring everybody who has loved you with you.”
Wasn’t she such a gift to this world. Angelou expressed words I wished to write. She’s my late auntie in my heart and these words I will remember always.
I am not alone in grief. I am surrounded by my loved ones always. This I know now. I don’t know if the things I write will be read or published but writing this helped my heart. This is written for those in grief. May we heal together and love each other.