Still Kickin… Living with Grief

Grief is hard.

Life is hard.

Living is easy.

I have been battling with my mind over the last few weeks, maybe even months, about all of this.   The twists and turns of grief are difficult to explain, and almost unimaginable until you live them.  At the same time, days pass, and weeks become months, and months years.  Living can just happen, it feels easy in a way.  If we aren’t careful life can pass us by.  I am grappling with how I can live, but remember, and move forward, but not forget.

Today I was belting out Dixie Chicks songs in the car with my daughter and just like that I was flooded with a warm sad feeling, and I smiled but cried a little too.  I can’t count the times my best friend Heidi and I blasted Dixie Chicks and drove around aimlessly thinking it was something we would do forever.  But today we can’t, our “forever” is over.  Heidi passed away just over a year ago, and dang that is hard.  But, in the same breath it is my reality, and I am learning to live, understand, and move forward with it.

Over the last year I thought I had everything under control.   I was working through my feelings, openly talking and writing about my grief and struggles, raising our girls, enjoying time with my husband and friends.  I thought I was living happily, and for the most part I was.  In an attempt to ensure I was healthy and dealing correctly I looked to a professional for guidance.  He is kind, understanding, and honest.  He was quick to tell me all of the good things I was doing, but at the same time told me I needed to “quit looking in my review mirror.”  At first this made me angry.  I thought to myself, “I am not looking back!  I am moving forward, look at all I have done!”  He calmly said that is all wonderful, but “you need to find a way to move forward with your memories without constantly looking back.”  Again, this made me resentful and feel like maybe I had looked for someone who just didn’t know what he was talking about.  In any event, I went home and “unboxed” and thought through all of what he was saying.  In doing this, little realities starting floating to the surface.  There was truth in what he was saying.  As much as I felt like I was moving forward there was still a part of me stuck in the past.

I decided to do a Whole30 to clear my mind and my gut (lol.) This is a diet based in eating specific paleo whole foods and no alcohol for (you guessed it) 30 days. 🙂 This time forced me to not go to anything for “comfort.”  There was no numbing allowed, no Christmas Cookie or drink could dull the edges.  I had to feel ALL the feels and dang it was hard.  But it was rewarding too.  I felt a lot that I hadn’t been feeling.  I realized that even though I had been open there was some dulling going on too. When forced to breathe through my thoughts I started having eye opening realizations.  I felt sadness that I had been afraid to feel, and I felt happiness that I hadn’t realized was there.  I was proud to have worked through those days, worked through my feelings, and in the end felt so much better.

Last week many of Heidi’s closest family and friends gathered for her final send off in the ocean.  She had few requests regarding her memorial services, but she asked that those she loved spread her ashes in the Outer Banks.  This was a special place for her and will now forever be her home.  It was a lovely week and I know her spirit was smiling.  After the ashes spreading ceremony the kids were playing in the ocean.  I looked up and saw my girls and many of my friend’s kids splashing in the water with Heidi’s daughters.  I smiled to myself and thought “This is the future, this is how I move forward without looking back.”  My heart swelled with love for the blessing of that moment.

As I look back over the pictures from the trip and reflect over the last 2 months I realize this is all just a part of my journey.  I am going to continue to work on myself.  There is no “shortcut” through feelings and no “quick fix” in life.  Life is hard, if you haven’t had to experience this yet, sadly you will, we all do.  What I am learning is that if we do the work and feel the feels, there is beauty to be had.  I am so blessed to have a loving supportive husband and 4 daughters who light up our whole life.  I am who I am in part because I knew and loved Heidi.  I am realizing a glance in the review mirror allows for us to see beauty, but if we look forward the view is breathtaking.  Part of my journey in this life will be to find ways to carry Heidi forward in my heart forever.


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Emily Holody

I am a mother of 4 girls ranging in age from 1 to 10 years old. I am happily married to my childhood sweetheart and live in the lakefront community of Euclid, Ohio. I enjoy helping others and dedicating my time to my family and my community. I enjoy happy hour on a patio, spending time with friends, gardening, looking for sea glass, and raising my 4 rebel daughters.

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