In Part Three I share the rest of my lived experience with grief, the truth of impermanence as well as the five stages of grief and a special message to anyone who is experiencing loss as well as some practical support for moving through each stage. I hope that this serves you beautiful. Please don't hesitate to get in touch if you would like to be held throughout your time of grief.
It's been two weeks since the anniversary. And whilst I have had some moments that have been challenging, for the most part, I have felt good. A few mornings ago, I woke up next to my partner and said.
"I can't stop thinking about Dad at night, I'm wide awake at the time of his passing every night still-but this anniversary feels very different. This process feels much gentler."
From what he knows of the previous anniversaries, he agreed. Even just last year the anniversary was incredibly difficult. I had the flight fight response back on and there was one night that I woke up crying hysterically- I could feel Dad's cold weak body again and I just needed to be held.
In January 2016 my rent contract was going to expire. I had the choice to renew it, but we began to discuss the possibility of moving in together. It was getting harder to go so long without seeing each other. So together we packed up my apartment. I sold most of my furniture on Gumtree, and we began the next chapter together.
In numerology we go in nine year cycles. 2016 was a nine year. As the year drew to a close I strongly felt that I had completed a cycle of grief that I was in. The scar tissue had formed and I was ready to take my final step in my healing journey. It only made sense that I scattered my share of Dad's ashes in the ocean I was guided to... My place of healing and contemplation. My place of deepening my connection to Mama Earth and my beloved Dad. I spent many nights looking up to the night sky, finding the brightest, shiniest star in the sky.
I tried not to place too many expectations on myself about how I was supposed to feel on this anniversary. I had done ALOT of deep healing to get to this point of readiness and so if I wasn't a blubbering mess as is to be expected when one is scattering parents ashes, then there was nothing wrong with that. In fact there was a sense of lightness and a spring in my step as I jumped the rocks. I felt happy, free and so ready to close this chapter.
I had a vague idea of where I wanted to go but until I actually got there I wouldn't know for sure. With my man and friend by my side, we walked down to the sand and my partner asked me if I wanted them to follow. I said I wasn't sure, but then walked to the water and signalled to him I was just going over to the rocks for a walk. Strongly guided by my intuition, it didn't take long before I had found the spot.
I walked back towards Euge and took the little urn out of my bag. I walked to the waters edge and thanked Dad for his presence in my life today, for guiding me to Melbourne and to the love he knew I deserved. I didn't feel a lot-just a deep peace and gratitude to be where I am today.
Life has changed a lot since my time of loss. To see the way my life has unfolded since trusting the divine guidance from my Dad is amazing and so special. To have found home within myself and in Melbourne. To have met my love, deepened my healing, and built my soul business, New Paradigm Collective.
My story continues to unfold in the most beautiful of ways. My love and I have put our little apartment on the market and will be moving into a bigger place. With one bathroom between the four of us (when the kids are over) and my study being in the kids bedroom, we have truly outgrown our home!
Thankyou for continuing to be my guide. I feel your presence so strongly in my life today and your legacy lives on. Thankyou for teaching me how to truly live and love and also die with grace.
Whilst I am sad that you will miss out on so many big events in my life, I know that you will be there in spirit. I will not die with my dreams still inside of me.
I will embrace all of that which I am being called to do in this world. I am grateful for your entrepreneurial spirit and drive, for instilling in me core values and a holistic view on life. I have found home within myself and also in Melbourne.
Noticing the impermanence of all living things has helped me to understand that we will all die one day and to not fear our individual life-cycle or that of others. Before my Dad died, I was terrified of death.
Getting to spend time at my Dad's bedside for those last few months was such a gift. I knew these were priceless moments I would never get back.
In our family home, we had a beautiful Weeping Willow tree. It fascinated me how its flowers would bloom with such grace and vigor one moment, and then wilt and fall to the ground the next. We are much like the weeping willow tree. Just as the leaves brown and fall to the ground, we too go through seasons of death and decay. This is the nature of all living things. And it got me wondering, how can we embody the grace and sacredness that these gentle trees are sharing with us? To deeply understand our impermanent nature is to understand that we are cyclic beings. When we are stripped bare, and fallen to the ground, it is in that moment that we know that we will return and bloom once again. So live your life everyday, to the fullest. Be thankful for the times when you are in full bloom and understand the sacredness of the decay. You will bloom again until one day you won't.
We are all dying, everyday you, see. How we choose to spend our days, whilst we are alive is really up to us. For we never really know when illness or an accident will hit us. But we cannot live in fear of death, because when we live in fear we are not really living at all.
Our lives are fragile and yet we humans are one of the most resilient species ever to grace the planet. It is my hope that we can each keep this in mind as we move through life and to remember to be a little more kinder, compassionate and caring toward each other. For we never really know what someone is going through, but we are all more similar than we may know. I am in total awe of the human experience and the sheer beauty of this life.
Human pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
In the early stages of grief, it may feel like life as we knew it has changed so significantly and that the black cloud will never lift. Sometimes we may skip a stage and begin on another one or we may be feeling all of them at once. Whatever your personal experience, I feel that the key take-away here is to not judge or place expectations on ourselves and our loved ones about how the process of healing should unfold. There is no set time that we find ourselves "over" our grief and loss. My understanding is that we may feel these five stages for the rest of our lives, perhaps not to the intensity that they were felt in the early weeks, months and years of our loss. The human experience is a messy one, full of highs and lows, ebbs and flows. Whilst we are in our earth suit we have a beautiful opportunity to be reborn and to turn over a new leaf. To ripen with age and to grow wiser with all that we move through.
There are five stages of grief, and whilst I relate in part to all of them, I do not feel that my process unfolded in textbook terms. People often think of the five stages as lasting weeks or months. They forget that the stages are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. We do not enter and leave each individual stage in a linear fashion. We may feel one, then another and back again to the first one.
When we lose someone that is so close to us, how can one make sense of it? Is it permissible to grieve? Are we to just ignore what we are feeling deep inside? The answer is simply, feel what you are feeling and do not ignore what is rising to the surface. It is not a time to pretend that all is “Love and Light” when we do not feel that way. Grief has taught me to live a more authentic life and to connect deeper with all aspects of my journey, the shadow and the light. This is no time for spiritual bypassing. What is arising is there to assist us, to help us continue to release more.
The Five Stages Of Grief:
Stage One- DENIAL:
Denial is the first of the five stages of grief. It helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We go numb. We wonder how we can go on, if we can go on, why we should go on. We try to find a way to simply get through each day.
Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. There is a grace in denial. It is nature’s way of letting in only as much as we can handle. As you accept the reality of the loss and start to ask yourself questions, you are unknowingly beginning the healing process. You are becoming stronger, and the denial is beginning to fade. But as you proceed, all the feelings you were denying begin to surface.
Example: I didn't cry at Dad's funeral. I didn't cry for a week after it. And then it hit me. He wasn't coming back. He really wasn't. It was almost like to get through the last few months of his illness I convinced myself he was going to survive. I often talked about him in the present tense and didn't realise I was doing it until after.
Stage Two- ANGER:
Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. The more you truly feel it, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. There are many other emotions under the anger but anger is the emotion we are most used to defaulting to. Underneath anger is pain, your pain. It is natural to feel deserted and abandoned, but we live in a society that fears anger. Anger is strength and it can be an anchor, giving temporary structure to the nothingness of loss. At first grief feels like being lost at sea: no connection to anything. When we push aside what is there in front of us, the tears, the anger, the devastation, or the despair, we are really pushing aside the healing that can take place in our lives.
Example: I felt triggered and angered by how my Dad died. It just didn't make sense. Not in our family. Dad was always a picture of health. He exercised regularly, ate a healthy and well balanced diet and was happy and connected to his purpose. As someone who has always had a deep passion for alternative remedies and less invasive treatments, I wondered whether we did all we could do to help Dad. I had read so many case studies on how chemotherapy and radiotherapy further weakened an already compromised immune system. I had read how it was putting more toxins into the body and that it was crucial to start pumping the highly nutritious juices and supplements that were going to support the growth of new healthy cells, not feed the bad ones. "The anger is just another indication of the intensity of your love.”
Stage Three- BARGAINING:
Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only your loved one would be spared. We become lost in a maze of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what it was; we want our loved one restored. We want to go back in time: find the tumour sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening. Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if onlys” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the pain of this loss. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt. We blame ourselves or others as a way of lessing the pain.
Example: During Dad's illness I was asking God to take me instead, to make Dad better and let him live instead of me. For the first few years after the loss, I truly believed it should be me who died. I felt such guilt for being the one who survived.
Stage Four- DEPRESSION:
After bargaining, our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, deeper than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It’s important to understand that this depression is not a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss. We withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering, perhaps, if there is any point in going on alone? Why go on at all? Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of. The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you’re in is actually depressing. The loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, and depression is a normal and appropriate response.
To not experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual. When a loss fully settles in your soul, the realization that your loved one didn’t get better this time and is not coming back is understandably depressing. If grief is a process of healing, then depression is one of the many necessary steps along the way.
Example: I was beginning to think of all the things my Dad would miss out on. Like my wedding day, seeing his grandchildren, watching my successes in life. I was feeling into all the times I would want his comforting words and guidance and believing I would never receive it anymore. I wanted to go back to the good old days, but life was never going to be the same again. My Depression over the loss of Dad was magnified due to already struggling with a Major Depressive Disorder. Unfortunately I became suicidal and really didn't see a point to living anymore. I was also struggling with complex trauma which made living almost unbearable. It was a long journey of recovery when I reached this stage and I was moving in and out of the various stages for years. *If you already struggle with Depression, it is absolutely critical you seek support from a psychologist or councillor during this time of vulnerability.
Stage Five- ACCEPTANCE:
Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “alright" or “ok” with what has happened. This is not the case. Most people don’t ever feel completely okay or alright about the loss of a loved one.
This stage is about accepting the reality that our loved one is physically gone and recognizing that this new reality is the permanent reality. We will never like this reality or make it ok, but eventually we accept it. We learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. We must try to live now in a world where our loved one is missing.
In resisting this new norm, at first many people want to maintain life as it was before a loved one died. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, however, we see that we cannot keep the past intact. It has been forever changed and we must readjust. As we begin to live again and enjoy our life, we often feel that in doing so, we are betraying our loved one. We can never replace what has been lost, but we can create a new version of our future. Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, we change, we grow, we evolve. We may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives. We invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time.
Example: I held on to the past for a number of years. I used to wear dads oversized jumpers in the Winter. I guess it made me feel like he was still here, just on a vacation. Eventually I let go of things and began to slowly come into the present moment. I realised I had a choice. To stay stuck in the heart ache forever, or move forward, take all the lessons and legacies Dad had left for me and create a new future for myself-albeit, one that would feel very different without my Dad there.
Today my life is even greater than I could have imagined 5 years ago. When I let go, I worried that Iwould forget Dad or be completely disconnected from him,, but the truth is,today i am more connected than ever. He was the one who guided me on all my important steps over the past few years and he drops little signs on my path all the time.
A message for you beautiful.....
Take heart dear one.....I know it feels like this gaping wound in your heart will never heal. I know you are struggling to put one foot in front of the other and find a reason to go on after such a great loss .
May you allow yourself time to feel the full spectrum of your loss. I cannot stress this enough. Feel the sadness. Allow the tears to flow. Don't place expectations or pressure on yourself to be "over it" Can you sit still enough for the answers born out of intuitive wisdom to come?
You have survived, brave heart. Yes, YOU have survived some of the most terrifying events of your life. No one really knows how brave you had to be, but you. All those times that you felt left behind, held back and broken, were not in vain. You have a deep intuitive wisdom that will guide you and reconnect you back to your soul.
Through wholehearted connection you will begin to realise you are not the only one going through a big storm. Embrace the void. It is a beautiful chance to start over. It is a gift to yourself and a gift to the world. It's a chance to start again. Healing from grief and loss is an incredibly confronting journey, but one that we each must take if we are to really truly come alive once again. When we understand that everything is impermanent, we can lessen the suffering of loss.
You will rise again.
You will find purpose in this pain.
"There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in." -Leonard Cohen.
There is a gift in this journey you are on. You may not see it yet but it will come in time.
Perhaps you can use your grief as a vehicle for transformation or to align with your souls purpose and life-work.
Perhaps it will heal you and connect you to your most thriving empowered self, just as it has me.
Align with your souls calling. Remember the good days. Look to the future. Remember who you were before the loss, trauma and illness came into your life, whilst allowing space for the growth and changes that are integrating. In many ways you are still the same you but, in other ways there is a new wiser self emerging.
This process can feel like putting the pieces of a puzzle together- especially if you have been disconnected from your soul and most thriving sovereign self for a long time. It is like connecting the dots and retrieving your soul. Don't walk this path alone. If you need support, reach out.
What legacy has your loved one left behind?
How did they live their life?
What were their values?
What do you wish to build in memory of your loved one or as a gift to the world?
"And so I find myself beginning to ask how do I want to die? How do I want to shed my petals of purpose? What are the colors that my soul is needing to release, and how can I share the beauty of who and what I am with those around me. And so these silent sages of hue and color gently nudge me into a quiet remembering. A remembering that they do not dwell in the past nor strive to be somewhere in the future. Unattached to the results of their destiny, they are simply fulfilling the role that nature has entrusted to them, carry out in the stillness of being what they are. And the more that I find myself leaning into their silent melody of color, I myself start forgetting what I have to do, and what I am supposed to be, and begin to slip into the present moment of what I am, detached from outcome, and aligned with the harmony of surrender." -Jeremiah Goodman.
Get Creative. Creativity was one of my life-lines during my loss. Paint, draw, sing, write, cultivate a garden. Do anything that inspires growth and evokes release and healing. I cannot stress enough the importance of having a strong network around you.
Journal. Simply getting my thoughts and feelings down on paper was so healing for me. Embrace the sadness. Embrace the emptiness. Embrace the blank canvas. Hold space for yourself and allow others to hold space for you. Return to Nature. Returning to my love of nature has healed me.
You are a culmination of so many things...
Your past experiences, your knowledge, the things that light you up, your talents and skills (and yes beautiful you do have talents and skills, we all do.)
When do you feel most alive?
Who and what inspires you?
Emerge and bloom in your own time.
I am with you. I see you. I hear you.
I feel you.
And you are going to be okay.
Love Chelsea x
Thank you beautiful for journeying with me. If you would like some further reading, I have listed and linked a few books that I have found really healing to read.
"Broken Open." By Elizabeth Lesser
"Care Of The Soul." and "Dark Nights Of The Soul." Thomas Moore
"A Lamp In The Darkness." By Jack Kornfield
"You Can Heal Your Heart." Louise Hay & David Kessler
"The Top Five Regrets Of The Dying." Bronnie Ware
If you would like some support from someone who has walked the path of grief, it would be an absolute honour to support you. As a highly sensitive soul, my approach is very gentle and we walk at your own pace. Please get in touch today. You do not need to struggle alone.
"Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars." ~Kahlil Gibran
Welcome beautiful. Here you will find the musings of my soulspeak infused with universal truths on love, conscious awakening, ancient wisdom, grace and flow.