A post for World Childless Week
During the deepest years of my grieving, I felt frozen. Time was ticking on, inevitably, but I was just frozen, stuck in despair and desperation. Lost.
I’d lost any sense of who I was, any purpose, and any hope. It felt like that was how it would always be.
But, having done a lot of grieving and faced some very desolate times, I now feel like something is finally changing for me.
I have realised that some of the coping mechanisms that I turned to in my grief have accidentally become important parts of the new life that I am living now.
One of the main things that I have by my side now is creativity. During my darkest moments I felt least understood by others, least heard and least seen; I knew that I was crying out for a way to express my pain, and I realised that I needed to try art as a means of expression. I was very scared of this, having always ‘known’ from my earliest years that I had no creative ability. But I was very motivated to try and learn how to express my own pain. I was so lucky: I managed to find a wonderfully gentle and supportive drawing teacher, who nurtured my learning, soothed my fears, and bolstered my very shaky confidence – and somehow managed to turn me into an ‘artist’! Nobody has been more surprised by this than me! But it gives me such comfort to know, now, that I have this to turn to when I need to express something. And it is more than that – for the first time in years I feel a sense of excitement and achievement in my own abilities. Who knows where this new path might lead me? It will be exciting to find out where this takes me.
Something else that I depended on in my grief was nature. I’ve always felt a sense of deep connection with the natural world, and I’m often deeply moved by the beauty that is all around us, just waiting to be noticed. What I hadn’t expected to find, though, was how interconnected the natural world was with my grief. It turns out that great comfort can be found while grieving with nature. Trees, grass, water, the sky, and animals can soak up endless quantities of tears, can listen to my story, absorb my rage, bear witness to my despair – and always provide solidity, reliability, and strength in return. And an important learning for me, in observing the continuous cycle of death, decay, renewal, rebirth of nature: whenever something dies, something else always, always comes to life.
This has unexpectedly fostered in me a sense of spirituality in nature, the holiness that lies within anything wild, and so my grief journey has become a journey of spiritual exploration, almost by accident. I certainly never intended that to happen, but that’s what it has become. I find myself, now, taking fresh steps along this path. I am delighted that I am walking, now, not just with grief but with curiosity, a sense of joy, and a kind of grateful excitement about whatever discoveries lie ahead in my future.
There have been many other gifts that I’ve found along the way, which I carry with my now, such as the pleasure to be found in silence, in stillness, in solitude. The joy of wild swimming or stargazing. The comfort of deep, vulnerable connection with someone who can allow themself to also be vulnerable with me. Singing and dancing (both of which scared me in my ‘before’ life). I am more open now to adventure now, to pleasure, to joy, to grief. I am more alive than I was before. I am actually much more ‘me’ than I was before – this is something that I feel very grateful to have discovered.
I do not think that I would necessarily have made any of these self-discoveries if I had been busy raising a family these past ten years. I would have other joys, other gifts in my life, no doubt, but I’m not sure that I would have these. So, I am choosing to be grateful, as I step towards whatever exciting things lie ahead.