When I was thirty the person that I loved and trusted the most in this world left me without any warning or time to prepare. I wasn’t left with just heartbreak and longing, I was leftover in a world that no longer made sense to me anymore and sensations in my body that were foreign, involuntarily and happening without my consent.
Before my beloved died I’d never experienced a loss that changed my life so dramatically. From my spiritual beliefs and to my worldview right down to not knowing what possessive pronouns to use, I was left bewildered. Was it still our bed if I would be the only one sleeping in it now?
In the world I was familiar with, people died when they were old, if you were a good person then good things happened to you. I longed for my future because I thought we, me and my beloved – the person that I chose to spend my life with – were in control of it. But my beloved’s death changed all of that.
My beloved’s death changed the axis of the planet. It made all the lights too bright and the pace of walking too quick. It exposed all of my emotional vulnerabilities without leaving me any tools to protect myself. I was barren.
In quiet moments my brain was unrelenting.
Did I deserve this?
Was my beloved’s death some sort of lesson I was supposed to learn or a consequence for something that I’d done?
If being a good person and doing the right thing doesn’t offer any protection from dying young, and at random, what agency do I have over my life at all?
Do my in-laws hate me?
How long is this pain going to last?
What’s the point of sticking around in this life if the only outcome for all of us is death?
Physically, when my beloved died an energy was born in my body. A dynamic space created by conflict between what was, what is, what was supposed to be and knowing enough to compare all three. It manifested in brain fog, memory lapses, fatigue, anxiety, changes to my appetite, irritability, extreme introversion, weight gain, insomnia, immeasurable rage, excruciatingly low energy, and debilitating loneliness.
And then COVID-19 happened.
I needed more help.
I sought out counselling.
I don’t have a rosie comeback story about my experience with counselling. Counselling did not cure me of my grief. Although it’s helpful, counselling is not that powerful. Nothing is.
I do not have a rosie comeback story about my experience with counselling but I have this:
I am still here. I am still alive.
Since my beloved died there are very few things that have offered me refuge from the turbulent waters of grief. Counselling has been one of them.
My counsellor is the only person who listens without an agenda, without any knowledge of who I was before and only acceptance for the person I am in that moment on the day that we speak.
My counsellor doesn’t care if I change my mind or I never return to the person who I was before my world was shattered. They care if I’ve eaten that day and drank a glass of water. They care if I’m okay enough to make it to the next day, and then the day after that one.
My counsellor will return to the anxieties that play on repeat in my head over and over again, even if we talked about them last week and the week before that. The patience of a counsellor is unparalleled. The boundaries of their acceptance are limitless.
My counsellor understands how significant it is when I set boundaries to protect my own mental health. They celebrate my wins with me no matter their size. And when the trajectory of my post-traumatic growth dips into the negative space again they are still there. Still by my side. Still on my team. Without judgement and without expectation.
Grief is unrelenting. It is vicious at times. It can be cruel. But it cannot be conquered, overcome, or resolved. So what power does anyone have to help? The best grief support anyone can offer is to make a bereaved life easier and more comfortable. That’s how people like me learn how to live around the legacy of our beloveds.
Focusing on comfort and ease, that’s the work that my counsellor does. It’s not always obvious but I know it to be true.
I am still here and I am still alive.