Tag Archives: loss

Stretch

Last night I had a really meaningful conversation with my twin sister about the passing of our brother. You see, he passed away a few years ago – January 11, 2018 will be the four-year mark – and more often than not I live in a state of disbelief that he’s really gone.

We were frustrated in our conversation, wishing the old pictures we saw of him and of us together didn’t have to be blacklisted as “the last photo we took together”. To have a “last” of something so precious is always a tough pill to swallow.

“These two months are the hardest ‘stretch’ of time – every little thing can just trigger us to tears,” we said.

“It’s such a time of extreme highs and lows,” we said.

“I just miss him so much,” we cried.

Eventually our anger turned into exhaustion and we decided to say our I love yous and end the call. We still texted each other afterward, because a phone call followed-up with an “I love you” text is commonplace in the Costello household. We have a lot of love for one another.

And all of that love is what makes this two-month “stretch” leading up to and after his passing that much harder. We love him so much. Not loved. Not past-tense. Present. Love.

But as I was making a cup of coffee at work today, trying to get through this busy “stretch” of time right up to the holidays, I had that little light bulb go off. You know – the one that illuminates and shifts your perspective just a bit.

I realized that everyone has a difficult “stretch” of time in their life, and maybe even one that reoccurs the same time each year. Whether it’s the passing of a loved one that you just wish didn’t exist, those exhausting times at work where you know you’re burning the candle on both ends, or just adapting to a change that maybe you didn’t see coming.

We all have low periods of time that push us, bend us, break us, and make us stretch.

But here’s the good news.

When you push yourself to stretch amidst grief and chaos, good things are bound to happen. Because stretching results in improvement, refinement, and yes, even growth.

 

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Lean

1,095 days since my brother passed away. Three years.

Three too many. Three too heartbreaking. Three too surreal. Three too confusing. Three too stressful.

Three years. 1,095 days.

There’s a piece of me that is permanently sad without him. Most of the time it’s a small piece that I can compartmentalize and keep control of. Most of the time it’s manageable. Most of the time I can keep going.

But I’m human. And sometimes I can’t.

Last night I cried so hard that I had a headache within minutes and it took all the restraint in me to not rip my hair out. I missed him hard. Maybe the hardest since the day I found out he was gone. I thought about the specific instances where looking back, I could have done more. It was daunting. I couldn’t breathe. I broke down… I just completely broke down.

But after awhile, I slowed down. I kept breathing. And then I did two things: I accepted the comfort of my boyfriend, and I called my twin sister.

I leaned on someone else so that I could stabilize myself. Stabilize my mind, my aching heart, and my battered body.

The tough part about grief is that it’s so sharp that you don’t want to share it with anyone else for fear of hurting them. It’s too painful. It’s too risky.

But surprisingly, grief also gives us a great opportunity. It allows us to connect with others in a way that is so raw and so real it’s practically impossible to ignore. If your grief is honest and true, it can bring you closer to those you lean on.

Grief can even bring us closer to those who are gone, because in a way, we lean on them, too.

We lean on them to give us signs that they’re still with us in some way, even if they’re signs that no one but us understands.

We lean on them to talk to when we have our quiet, private moments of prayer or reflection where we are absolutely sure that they can hear us.

We lean on them to still be here for us in those milestone moments, even if it’s in a way that’s not what we originally imagined.

We lean on them to protect us as guardian angels in times of strife and hardship.

We lean on them all of the time.

So the next time you find yourself in a dark moment of grief, lean into it.

Let it catch you and cleanse you and bring you closer to whatever and whoever it is that you need to keep yourself going in that moment.

Go ahead, lean. You’ll find yourself standing soon after.

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