Do you ever feel as if the universe is testing you? This year has been one of challenges, and I am trying to navigate my way through the best that I can. What started off as an optimistic time (yay, moving into our brand new house!) quickly turned in the wake of my best friend’s passing just two months ago. After that? An evacuation from our home due to Hurricane Irma, and 60+ hours of driving with our dogs and most prized possessions on our way up north and back. We are SO lucky that our house went largely undamaged, with the exception of a bit of flooding, a few roof tiles, and uprooted trees.
Generally, I am very private about my emotions (other than to my best friends and closest family, of course). In lieu of getting too far into detail, I wanted to share some happy moments, as well as coping strategies I have found helpful.
My words could never justify the vibrant, beautiful person that Jackie was. The closest I will ever have to a sister, my other half, the person I would text or call about literally anything at any given time. I selfishly think of how her passing has affected me, but I know that she has influenced so many — especially her students — in the course of her short and amazing time on Earth. Our time together was nearly always spent cackling away, and there are too many times when I think of our memories and double over laughing. In 15 years of friendship, we had never gone more than a couple of days without talking. The void I am left with is felt in a very real way. I know I will always feel this deep pain in my heart without her, but I have found the following to be comforting in a time of grief.
- Journaling. I have thrown away my old notebooks and started anew. My feelings and hopes for the future are documented in a fresh, new notebook that I associate with my healing. While I haven’t been regimented with my journaling, I make sure to keep it close for when a moment strikes me — whether I want to recall a memory, a dream, or simply state an intention for my future. For me, this step has been especially sentimental since Jackie and I used to pass notebooks back and forth throughout high school, documenting our daily lives to each other.
- Yoga & Meditation. A hot yoga class gives me a sense of relief that is indescribable. I have literally cried coming out of savasana after a heated power class. The release felt after some time spent in an introspective way is a powerful and moving reminder that we are all human. The few minutes spent in meditation/breathing exercises or yoga have been immensely healing for me.
- Reflecting on Happy Times. Jackie and I had such a unique relationship, and after so many years, we had too many hilarious memories to count. Whether it was the silly routine we choreographed on her trampoline (and still remember 15 years later), the thrill of freaking out my brothers by wrapping each other in a rug while singing church songs (can’t even make this up — LOL), our numerous hiking and camping trips, vacations with each other’s families, and that fact that we simply just had the exact same thoughts so much of the time. I find myself laughing at so many of the things that we have done together, and I find so much comfort knowing that we maximized our time together.
- Take Every Day Moment by Moment. Just when you think you can’t go on, the best advice I got was to stay present and envision yourself accomplishing the task at hand. Forget day by day. Take every task for what it is. Feeling too miserable to get out of bed, and worried about the rest of the day? Face one battle at a time. Don’t think beyond getting out of bed. I have likened it to exercise; prior to her passing, I would usually say to myself, “Just a 1/4 more of a mile and then I can stop.” After I reach that goal? My endorphins were too high to stop, and I’d run another 1/4, and so on until I felt I had completely exhausted myself. I have learned to take everyday tasks in the same manner. The simple things like getting up and making breakfast, making the bed, and doing laundry seem trivial, but they prove themselves to be accomplishments in the face of grief.
If you are dealing with grief and need a friend, don’t hesitate to reach out. This is an incredibly difficult obstacle to face, but I am confident that with her guidance, I will get through this.