Inside: There are so many ways to build a beautiful life. There are many paths to get to joy and there are many routes to wholeness. There is more than one right way to be human.
TW: grief, child loss
The shift from summer to autumn is hard on my mind, body, and soul. My parents both died and were buried in fall. My son died in fall and we are approaching the two year anniversary since he left this world.
Two years. Imagine two years of not hearing or touching or smelling or laughing with or feeding or staying up late into the night talking with or watching movies with or texting or playing ridiculous family games with your child.
But it’s been over three years since he told me he was going to die. And over six years since his mental health took a turn for the worse. And over 25 years since he joined our family and made us parents. And my goodness, we loved him completely.
Exactly who and how he was. This world was hard for him. And unkind to him. It’s unkind to everyone who cannot measure up or keep up to the more is better and faster is better and productivity proves your worth mentality.
there are so many ways to build a beautiful life
It feels impossible. But every day of the past (almost) two years I have worked hard, deliberately, to breathe, and show up fully to my life, to love, to tend, to use my voice, to receive help and healing. To choose healing and wholeness is incredibly hard work because there is a part of you that believes this is wrong. How dare I laugh and make plans for the future and feel joy when my child suffered horrifically and died alone?
But of course, I can. And I do. I do so for my daughters first, but I also do so for me. And I do so for my husband and for my sisters and brothers and also for my friends. I do it for you too – because we need more examples in this world of truth-telling about pain and suffering and practicing self-compassion through it all. Of walking through trauma and thriving again. Of struggling hard with mental health and neurodiversity or not fitting well into this world but stubbornly carving out a path that works for us and claiming it as good and refusing to believe we are bad or wrong or broken simply because we don’t fit into the little box we’ve been handed.
There are so many ways to build a beautiful life.
There are many paths to get to joy and there are many routes to wholeness.
There is more than one right way to be human
An important part of my own survival has been rooted in seeking out models of those who’ve gone before me. I needed to know this was possible. When every cell in my body screamed that surely I too must die, and I knew that this pain would swallow me whole… I searched for examples of hope and possibility. In memoir and in a grief circle with other moms who’ve lost their babies. And in the brave and compassionate community of women, like me, invested in growth and freedom.
I feel impatient. I’m supposed to be writing a manuscript but I’m still learning to live this new reality. I want this to be enough time so I can busy myself with work. But grief and healing are wise and old and they take their time. And of course, I don’t want to bypass the work, and I am still learning to feel safe and at home in my body and life again. And one of my other children are learning to feel safe and at home in their body and life again.
We are lucky. We have access to therapy and medication and good food. We have wonderful friends and a home in a safe neighborhood. We have each other and Jairus knew he was loved. And none of this means it’s “easy” but I think about all the people navigating grief and trauma and mental illness without these supports in place. All the people who live under shame and feeling less than because they do not fit neat and tidy into the school system or 9-5 work rhythms and they’re told that mental health matters but also you probably shouldn’t be too open about it lest you be judged and even if you tell the truth that doesn’t mean there is help for you.
Let’s be honest, we still act like there is one right way to be human and if you diverge, then heaven help you.
I want better – I want better for myself and for my youngest child and for my friends’ kids and my nieces and nephews. I want better for my clients and for all the youth who choose to die because staying here is the harder choice.
I cannot bring my son home. This is a fact that it took my body a long time to come to terms with. But YOU – I can maybe remind you of your beauty and dignity and worth. I can offer the little bit of light I have to invite you to come aside and rest awhile and get to know yourself. The real you, underneath all your struggle and learned coping patterns and the labels you’ve been handed. To come into relationship with yourself and unearth your strengths and gifting (it’s likely tangled up with your struggle), to practice self-compassion and allow joy to live alongside your grief and longing, to learn how to honour your wiring, and exchange judgment for curiosity, shame for self-compassion, and fear for agency as you come home to yourself.
You are good. You are good. You are good.
I don’t believe the story that “everything happens for a reason” but I do believe that we get to choose our response. And my response to heartache is to pour out hope. And my response to suffering is to offer my gifts. And my response to struggle is to make space for you to tell your story and feel safe and seen and heard.
I think sometimes all it takes is one tiny seed, planted and watered, to change a life.
And the one tiny seed I offer today is that perfection is not required, struggle is human and not a sign of being bad or broken, this world is a messy place and if you feel like you don’t belong, it’s not on you, it’s because we have not yet learned how to make space for you. But I hope you won’t give up.
Love Krista xo
NOW WHAT? If you’re ready to befriend yourself (and walk out the truth that there is more than one right way to be human), I invite you to check out the Brave + Beautiful Membership Community or the Befriend Yourself Mini-Course.