I was really hoping to start this post with a bit of a philosophical reflection along the lines of “sometimes, when life seems dark, the clouds can part and hope can peek through and grief is a bit like that.”
I was doing the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb today to acknowledge the 20 year anniversary of my beautiful daughter Bree passing away, but Sydney had a terrible forecast for the weekend. I had it all drafted in my head because I was thinking positive, I’d had my conversation with Bree asking her to hold off the rain and the weather was going to be okay.
Not to be.
I woke up to rain and it continued the entire climb. I’m not talking just a constant rain, I am talking torrential rain, coming in sideways where you can wring out your socks afterwards to leave big puddles on the floor.
The reality is, grief and life in general can be a bit like that too. Sometimes, no matter how much you want everything to work out or you think you should be feeling better, it doesn’t and you aren’t okay and you fall into a bit of a heap.
So much of today’s society is centered around positive thinking and achieving happiness, that we can be left feeling worse, like we are failing if we don’t feel positive and happy ALL THE TIME.
The simple fact is, it is okay to have times to not be okay. You are allowed the feeling of not being okay. Acknowledge it. Strange as it may sound, by acknowledging it, it becomes real. By being real, rather than trying to deny it, you can address it and find a way to work through it whether it is through things like doing self-care or seeking professional help.
Today, I am not okay, nor have I been most of this week as is common for grieving people facing an anniversary. The lead up is often worse than the actual day. I have also learnt from experience, that I will likely be flat for most of the coming week.
The important thing to remember is that the light can return. Sometimes it takes a bit longer than you’d like for the sunshine to peek through, sometimes it simply takes a quick flight back to Melbourne! (As an ex-Sydneysider, I never thought I would be saying those words!)
I had two little bits of light today. One was being on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, thinking about Bree and allowing the tears to fall. Because of the rain, no one noticed a thing and I didn’t feel uncomfortable about letting them flow. To understand this, grieving people often put a mask on, hiding their true grief because other people are uncomfortable around it. It felt good to not have to put that mask on.
The second was thinking about Bree looking down on me and laughing her head off. She was stubborn, cheeky and usually chose to ignore me when I asked her something and today was no different.
I also know as much as she was having her fun, she was looking out for me. Just before we were collected to start the safety briefing, I began to feel agitated, feeling overwhelmed with the emotion of the day and trying to control the tears. Suddenly, a song came over the speaker, which has been a bit of a power booster for me over the last few years – Rachel Platten’s ‘Fight Song.’ At a time when I needed some support, it came and my agitation disappeared.
To my beautiful girl, my heart aches to have lived 20 years without seeing you. Bag of Hearts is my dedication to you, to share the joy you brought to my life with others so that you live on.