I have two favourite phrases that have always kept me going.
It's OK not to be OK and this is not my forever.
I want to add a third one. It's OK to be OK.
Not feeling OK is a natural grief reaction. Our world stopped when they died. Our norm was rocked, routine smashed, and life changed forever. It's a horrible place, and feels earth shattering, but we accept it's part of grieving, so we work through it and process.
What I didn't expect was ever feeling OK.
Feeling OK felt bad. I shouldn't be feeling OK, right?
There is never an end to grief, but there is a time when life starts to gently heal in its own sweet way. We make tiny steps towards a new "normality", while carrying them with us, in our hearts.
I absolutely hated this. When I first began to notice, I felt bad. It felt I was forgetting him. I remember the first time I laughed, I'd gone to the cinema with a friend and I laughed. I felt like an awful person. How could I laugh when he was dead? I felt anything other than sad was bad. Sad meant I was remembering him, acknowledging the pain, the loss, the sadness. Sad felt respectful.
This is how grief has felt to me.
At first, it consumed everything.
Grief was everything.
When I started to see and feel small improvements, like going to see friends, laughing at the cinema, taking a walk, it felt like my grief was shrinking and I was terrified. I wanted to remember him forever. Grief was my mark of respect and love for him. Grief was the price I paid for true love and losing my soul mate. Grief was remembering.
It took such a long time for those thoughts to pivot.
My grief was not shrinking.
I was just building my life around that grief. I found ways to live alongside the grief. It will never go, it won't shrink, but I grew, holding him deep in my heart, with a smile, and feeling so blessed that I had found my soulmate, and that's absolutely totally completely utterly OK.
It's OK to feel OK. It really is. You will never, ever forget them. They live on in our hearts and memories forever.