I’ve been thinking a lot about grief and loss lately. It’s been something that has consumed me at times. I know I’m not the only one, but I can only share my experience.
COVID triggered old trauma and created new traumatic experiences I decided I need to go back to therapy to process.
I haven’t seen my family since last Christmas, which is the longest I’ve ever been away from them my entire life. That within itself has been heartbreaking.
Then my beloved Lina’s health declined rapidly and she passed away a little over three weeks ago. She was more than a dog to me. She was my constant companion for eleven years and half years, part of how I coped with triggers, my baby and the only family I had in New Jersey.
Losing her has been overwhelming. In the beginnning I was numb, yet restless. It was hard to sit still. It felt like my body was searching for her, to reconnect since we were so attached to one another. My nervous system felt out of whack. The best way to describe it is like when your phone is trying to connect with Wifi that’s nearby. It’s searching because there’s a connection there. I was like that for a week and then I guess my body finally recognized the physical connection to her was lost.
I couldn’t cry that first week after the day she died. I couldn’t feel much of anything and I had to adjust to life without her. My daily routine had started and ended with caring for her and everything in between was connected to her. I had to rethink everything every day. Simple things didn’t feel simple anymore. I talked to my mom a lot because I felt a heartache and loneliness I hadn’t felt since I left my family in Texas.
The second week all the emotions hit like a Tsunami, completely suffocating and enveloping me. I struggled to compartmentalize them so I could work and do the things I had to do. I was dreaming of holding babies since my body missed holding Lina in my arms like I often did. When it became clear I wasn’t healing with time like you’re supposed to, I started running to process my feelings. That helped some, but I needed more.
I started meditating. Focusing on my breath and where I felt the pain most in my body. It was in my heart. My breath stopped at my heart, so I visualized my heart, putting it back together with my own hands and sewing it up so it could start to heal. It was such an intense and powerful experience once I was able to work through it. I felt it throughout my entire body the moment I finished sewing up. I felt like my mind and body could start healing. I could breathe again.
Another meditation and visualization I followed up with was seeing myself in a deep, dark and muddy hole of sorrow and grief. Initially I had a hard time climbing out. My subconscious was resistant to letting go of how I felt. I strapped on cleats and put a knife in each hand and clawed my out so I could get back to surface where my loved ones were.
Healing has been hard as it tends to be when living with PTSD. It has required more intentional self care and rest than usual, but it’s getting better. I’ve been able to write again in a way I haven’t been able to this past year. It began with writing poetry about grief, a 2,500 word story about Lina and then I was able to start working on my screenplay again. I’ve also been more intentional in my relationships and grateful for the people in my life.
While the holidays feel a little bittersweet this year not celebrating with my family or my sweet Lina, I’m healing and finding joy in embracing the holiday spirit. This is a magical time of year! ❤️