How do you reach acceptance?
"Acceptance doesn't mean resignation; it means understanding that something is what it is and that there's got to be a way through it." — Michael J. Fox
Here's a strange question. Do you remember where you were on April 29, 2015?
At 9am that morning I was still lounging in bed, lazily meditating on the day ahead, when Armand answered a phone call in the living room. While I couldn't hear his words, the tone of his voice during that call alarmed me. I had only heard that tone once before, ten years earlier, when we had almost lost our friend Marc to a polar bear while he was on an expedition to the North Pole. The polar bear incident set dominoes in motion that up-ended our lives and almost broke us. It was pure hell, and that's when I made the piece above, Turning Point.
So here was that tone in Armand's voice again. Marc was on an expedition in Northern Canada with Philip, and they were on the final day of the ca. 400km trek. Trying to stay calm, I got out of bed and padded to the living room to find out what was happening.
That's when it hit the fan. The call was about a distress signal. What I didn't quite grasp at that moment was that we were about to go through the hell of 2005 all over again. Only this time, it was worse. Far, far worse. Just read my Gratitude post or what to do When One Door Closes and you'll have a tiny indication. In hindsight, this was another major turning point in my life...
“At grief so deep the tongue must wag in vain; the language of our sense and memory lacks the vocabulary of such pain.” — Dante Alighieri, Inferno
I hadn't expected to feel the loss as deeply as I did, but Marc was my go-to person. He was the one I would call in case of emergency. He was the brother I wish I'd had. And now he was gone.
Where do you go from there?
At first I felt like a popped balloon as it loses air, flying uncontrollably in the air without a direction. I looked for someone to ground me but to no avail. Those who didn't know Marc or Philip didn't understand. Couldn't understand. So it was impossible to connect with them. And those who understood what we were going through fell with us, headfirst, into a giant hole that opened up in the earth. That hole swallowed all of us, whole.
We were destroyed.
Where do you go from there?
"Grief is in two parts. The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life." — Anne Roiphe
When you fall into an abyss, eventually you'll land at the bottom. Usually in a giant heap.
Eventually you begin to gather your senses. Then your wits. And your strength.
The hardest part is to climb out of the giant hole. To WANT to climb out. And to DO it.
The next important undertaking is to not become embittered. (Read how here.)
The third task is to find beauty to bring you back to life. (Read how here.)
Once you get past those three steps, you can rebuild your life. (Read that post here, written a few days after the accident.)
Attitude is everything. With each step you take, you get to make choices.
A choice to keep moving or to stop.
A choice to stay in grief or to move through it.
A choice to be positive or to paint everything black and fall into depression.
A choice to embrace life or to slowly wilt and die.
Acceptance of the fact that Marc is gone is slowly sinking in. I am getting used to it. And I am living the answer to the question "Where do you go from there?"
The answer is to just take a step. The direction doesn't matter. Backward, forward or sideways. Just take a step...
How to move forward after a loss
Reach out to someone. Connection to other humans becomes crucial. Snuggle with your cat or dog. It feels good to be loved unconditionally and to touch a living being.
Eventually you start going outside again, just to breathe in the air and to feel the rain on your face. Then you come back into your body and start to eat. Lots of comfort food.
Move your body and go for short strolls. Life moves slower now. Enjoy it.
Things are put into perspective, and nothing seems urgent. Fear and anxiety don't paralyze you the way they used to.
Greater intimacy in your relationships becomes important. Deepening friendships, too. Your health and surroundings also become more important, as does being gentle with yourself.
One day you'll be amazed to find yourself laughing. That's a good sign. Allow yourself to laugh. Every day.
At some point you look to create something new. To learn something new. To do something new. Newness and growth become a priority. That's when you open up to new possibilities...
Finally comes the day when you turn around and see you've taken many steps to rebuild your life. And you can finally exhale.