1. Time is no longer measured in the traditional sense. It becomes impossible for your mind to process the passing of calendar days when part of yourself remains rooted in the moment your world went silent. You’ve become a boulder at the bottom of a stream where all you can do is watch the current move swiftly by while praying it is strong enough push you along.
2. Well-meaning people are everywhere. You desperately want to let their words comfort you, but all you can think about is how angry you are and how unfair it all seems. “I’m sorry” doesn’t offer the solution you are craving and you can’t place blame on “they’re in a better place.” These phrases lose their meaning. They become placeholders for actual conversations in order to mask the uncomfortableness that the topic of death tends to bring about.
3. Nothing will fill the hole left behind where the people you are missing should be. There are words that will never be spoken, and milestones you can never share. Thousands of potential memories lost in the reality of death. The realization that you will never get a chance to walk them through your first home or introduce them to your children will steal your breath and haunt your dreams. The vastness of this hole is far greater than anything you could have ever prepared for.
4. Some days are just hard. There will be no reason that you can pinpoint but your heart will ache and the elephant in the room will settle down on your chest, making it hard to breathe. You have to be patient with yourself. It is not an easy task to try to reconfigure what your life looks like without these people in it.
5. You will try to convince yourself that you are ok. One morning you will wake up and realize it has been days or weeks since your last breakdown. You will look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you have made it out on the other side. Somehow you have done what felt impossible at first. You will be confident. When you get in your car and the first song you hear causes tears to fall down your cheeks, you will realize that you had been lying to yourself.
6. You are definitely not ok. The quiet of the night will threaten to swallow you whole and sometimes your arms will not be strong enough to hold yourself together. Allow yourself some space to fall apart. Sometimes it has to get worse before it gets better.
7. The dreams are the worst. They make the anxiety in your chest blossom while images of caskets and funeral processions fill every inch of the space between reality and unconsciousness. Some nights they even trick you into thinking nothing is wrong. That the people you are missing are right where you left them. When you wake, the truth crashes into your chest like a freight train, causing the lies in your dreams to go up in a ball of flames and smoke.
8. There will come a point when some people will forget the reason for the sadness in your eyes. They will stop asking how you are doing or if there is anything they can do to help. It will seem strange to you that something so central in your life has been forgotten, but it’s perfectly normal for them to move on from your tragedy. This is the point where you will start to feel alone. This is the point where you need to muster up all of your strength to fight the voices in your head lying to you about being alone.
9. Slowly you will begin to laugh again. Timid at first, but eventually the smile will make its way to your eyes. Instead of staying home, you will find yourself making plans and keeping them. Hope will start to push its way through the darkness; a shining reminder that there is still so much life to live. You will do your best to swallow the guilt you feel over living your life when everything in you is screaming about how unfair it is that you still get one.
10. You are stronger than you think you are. Every day is a battle fought in this war that you had no choice but to serve in. Your tears have created an ocean, but your body remains a battleship navigating the stormy waters. No matter what the demons in your head tell you, know that you are stronger than you think you are.