We continue our month long series highlighting the grief and healing journeys of women in the GGH community. This weeks piece is written by Irish.
"It would have helped to know that life breaks us to build us, but it is a choice for us on how we want to re-configure those broken pieces into something new."
I am a writer and an aspiring grief support worker and author.
Who have you lost/ what life-altering event have you experienced?
I lost my partner.
How long has it been since?
It will be 3 years in September.
Did you experience any significant life changes or impacts following?
My whole life, everything I thought I was, and everything I wanted to be, all changed.
Can you talk a bit about the day of/days leading up to your loss/these life-changing events?
The days leading up to my loss were so beautiful. I was so happy, life looked absolutely perfect and there was a lot I was looking forward to. I was at a very big high, especially the 2-3 days prior to my partner’s death, so when he passed unexpectedly, it was the most unbelievable and painful experience of my life.
How did you cope in the month that followed?
I numbed out, not by choice, it just happened. I did not know how to cope, so I decided to leave the country and go visit my sister for a couple of months. Those two months I spent exploring and understanding death, desperately trying to communicate with my partner, hoping that our spirits can still talk and feel each other. I researched and studied the beliefs behind death, that led me to understand a variety of spiritual concepts such as past-life regressions, spirit communications, our place in the universe as the human race, the purpose behind our particular existence and so much more. I desperately needed answers so I did a past-life regression in California and my story then got included as a case study in the book, Wisdom of Souls by the Micheal Newton Institute. This experience changed my perspective, though the grief was still very intense, I had more hope that one day it will all fit together like the perfect puzzle. I believe I dealt with my pain in the healthiest way possible, I became obsessed with understanding death, but today that has led me to better understanding grief and to want to support others through that painful journey.
Spotlight on your loved one
My loved one meant the world to me. I could not imagine having a life without him. We did everything together and spent the majority of the day together. We were even going to school together, when we decided to study in the same field, hoping that one day we could open a small business. All our dreams were intertwined and life seemed perfect as long as we were together. He had a beautiful heart and was extremely caring and loving. We learned a lot from each other, and we changed each other’s life for the better. Losing him came with losing everything. He was all I wanted, and I felt that he was snatched away from me, the cruelest gesture I have ever experienced and I did not even know who to blame for it. But with time, I learned to cherish him in many other ways that I would have never seen possible initially. Today, he is my spirit guide, my guardian angel, I talk to him in my loneliest moments, and I pray to him in my toughest times. Today he knows and sees me better than ever before, and I feel I am constantly connected to him.
How do you cope now when you miss them or when you think back to that time in your life.
Over the years, I have learned more and more that somehow he is so much closer to me now than he ever was while living. I feel him all the time, in the things that happen in my life or in signs I observe in everyday life. I am constantly connecting with him, either through talking to him, doing things in his memory, connecting with others living with grief, or through my passions of better understanding and managing the impacts of death on the bereaved. His physical loss gave me the path I wanted to embark on for the rest of my life by motivating me to do work I am so passionate about and I did not even know that until I lost him. He was and will always be a part of me and that is what I rely on in the moments I miss him the most.
How does this loss impact you today?
Today, I am much better at managing the excruciating pain that came with the loss for almost 2.5 years. Recently, I have been moving towards a more balanced life, my perspective has improved and I am starting to see light on my path again. The last few months have been good for me, and I feel my healing has begun in small steps. I do know though that it will take my whole life to continue healing from this and many other painful experiences of my life and I love it. I do not want to become stagnant or stuck in my pain, I want to grow from it. My pain has been a huge part of my life and a huge part of who I have become. In ways, it is a gift I have been given, but I have to choose to see it in that way to understand its positive impacts. My partner is a part of me and anyone I meet or interact with knows that about me. Those who understand and support it end up being in my life much longer, those who do not, I choose to step away from. Today, I try to make healthy decisions and choosing the people who deserve to be in my life and who do not, and that is a very important part in order for me to be living a healthy life.
What were some of the most pivotal healing moments in your journey?
One thing that helped me get through these last years without me ending up in a very bad place. That one thing was when I reached out to the Centre for Grief and Healing (Bereaved Families of Ontario Halton/Peel) for support through my journey. I have been associated with them for 2 years as a participant, volunteer and summer student. Without them, I would not have been able to see hope again, the way I do today. Apart from that, my passions for learning and experiencing life have been hugely motivating to keep going, to keep trying, and to find a way to keep living. I have chosen to work in grief support, though my schooling at the moment is not in that field, regardless I want to give my passion of helping people a chance, I feel that is where I best fit in, in this world. I am grateful to Girls Gotta Heal for giving me this chance to share my story, it is very healing in many ways, and has helped me think through some things I do not find myself thinking of as much.
What do you wish you would’ve known then that you know now? What would you tell yourself then if you could go back to those most painful moments after your loss? ....
It would have helped to know that life can get really low, that we can go through things that will break us to the point where it would seem as if all is over. It would also be helpful to know that nothing really ever stops, that in one way or another, we continue to step forward, and that it is ok to do that. We do not leave anyone behind, there is a mystery to life and it is beautiful. I now know to embrace that mystery, that mysticism in the air because that gives me the hope that I can never truly lose anyone or anything, we are all here, though unseen sometimes, we are here in unknown ways, and with love beyond comprehension. It would have helped to know that life breaks us to build us, but it is a choice for us on how we want to re-configure those broken pieces into something new.
Girls gotta heal because ... pain exists for the purpose of transcendence, for rising from the ashes, for becoming our highest self, for loving beyond any fear, and for experiencing every detail of life just as it is.
If you would like more support resources and to follow the work Irish is doing in the grief community follow @centreforgriefandhealing or visit https://www.bereavedfamilies.ca. You can also follow Irishs poetry page @i.desire_