I never thought much of dreams until last year when I had one with Brian in it.
It had been a year since I had last seen him. And though he had since remarried and moved on with his life, it didn’t change the fact that he had been such a large part of mine. The loss was hard on me. I felt it each day.
And yet in the dream, there he was. Although in my day to day life, I could conjure a memory of his face in mind with effort, in this dream, I saw his face, so clearly and distinctly. The long eyelashes. His smile with crinkles at the corners of his eyes. Perhaps the most remarkable part of this dream was feeling his presence again. Because in this dream, it was not just an image of him, but the feeling of his actual spirit and presence.
When I woke up, I suddenly understood that dreams are far more powerful and significant than we realize. How incredible it is that even despite a loss, that there is a place where our loved ones exist with us. A place where we can see them from time to time. Where all that pain and heartbreak is somehow gone — or perhaps if present, transcended so that our loved ones are here with us again, smiling.
The quote in this post was originally posted by user GSnow on Reddit in a thread in which a woman asked for advice on how to cope with the recent death of her best friend. It’s one of the best descriptions of grief that I’ve ever read. When I connected with GSnow, he said that he’s been contacted over the years by so many people who have been touched by his response — people have asked to feature it on TV and t-shirts and everything, which was a surprise to him, as he was simply posting from his experience and heart. I’ve posted it here in case you find it helpful in your own experience and journey with grief.
To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven (Ecclesiastes 3: 1).
Sometimes we may feel discouraged, and feel as if life as we have known it is over. What lies ahead? We live in fear that our best days are behind us, that we have failed and made mistakes, that there is nothing to be done now, nothing that can turn back time and get us back to a place of what once was. In our darkest of moments, we wonder if there was a point to any of this suffering. What is life if it involves pain and grief like this? Life feels empty and meaningless. We feel like giving up.
It has been 3 years since my initial experience with grief and loss and though many people told me that time would heal, it didn’t make each day easier. Although time heals, it takes a commitment to wake up each day and to make it through to the next day even when your mind, body, and spirit are crushed. At some point this process of living in the face of grief becomes easier, and you find yourself feeling joy and contentment again, even with the pain that is there. It’s like learning how to walk all over again, but this time with a broken leg.
You are loved. You are beautiful. You are worthy. You’re not perfect, but you’re not your mistakes. Perhaps you’ve made them. Big ones. But that’s okay. We all do. Forgive yourself and use it as the soil for growth, for compassion for yourself and compassion for others when they make mistakes.
I read somewhere that sometimes life involves two mountains. The first mountain is the one you start off in life climbing. You ascend it, thinking that this is what life is about — your career, money, stability, achievement, making your parents proud, worthiness, etc.
Know this — you are loved. You are worthy and beautiful in every way. You don’t have to be anyone other than who you are. You’ve made mistakes, just as we all have. You’ve said things you wish you could take back. You’re not perfect. But you’re none of these mistakes.
There is a light inside you. Let it grow and shine. Sometimes it’s long forgotten. We haven’t connected with it given the busyness of our days. Other times, we have allowed the world to tell us that it is not there and never was.
It’s strange how time passes — how after the unthinkable occurs, life goes on. The sun rises and falls. Flowers bloom. Trees rustle in the wind. There is an eeriness to it and in the beginning it is tempting to stay lost in this space.
There is a light within you. No darkness can overcome it. Sometimes this light is loud and vibrant. Other times such as in places of grief and loss, it is quiet — silent almost. A thread.
It’s different for everyone, but for me, grief was like walking through the valley of a shadow of death: a place where I walked and walked with seemingly no hope — just darkness and shadows and the faintest of light.