They say it changes you. It transforms you in ways you never could have or would have imagined before.
Grief. Deep, formidable, life-altering grief. Something you never could have, would have or wanted to see coming.
At first, you don’t believe it. Your mind can’t grasp this new reality that has suddenly become yours. How could anything change the world you’ve come to believe as true? That would be impossible. You’ve spent your entire life creating "we," and then suddenly, the "we" becomes "me."
Feeling like you are at a dead end.
You were satisfied with your life and can’t imagine it changing. You wouldn’t want it to change. Why would it change?
But, then, it does. Without your consent or cooperation. Without warning. Without anything that makes any sense.
And you are supposed to accept it and go on.
Your someone — your No. 1 person — leaves this Earth, and you are left to deal with it. It feels very alone, because you are alone.
The ones in the know tell you that you will change. Your grief-storm will transform you. You will never be the same.
“But I want to be the same!” you scream inside your head (or maybe even out loud). “I don’t want anything to change!”
But it already has.
It. Already. Has.
Take a breath. Take that in, because it is bigger than big. Especially once you have lived it out firsthand. Your truth has already changed, without your permission.
So, where do you go from here? When the old you no longer exists? When there is no choice, really, because that was stolen from you? When the only option now is to live this new life you never, ever imagined and that involves finding an entirely new you?
It is uncomfortable. It is unnerving. It is filled with regret and sorrow. It’s inevitable. It has to happen, because the alternative to living again is dying, and I’m not ready for that yet.
But at the tail end of this regret and sorrow comes hope and a desire for the future. You find a new yearning for the future. You want to go on. You are no longer satisfied with existing. You want to live. To live again. Fully, madly, deeply. Your entire being yearns for this.
This transformation changes you in ways you never would have thought possible — before. It pushes you. It challenges you to grow.
And, one day, deep into this tunnel of grief that seems never-ending — because it is — you realize the growth isn’t a challenge. It’s an opportunity. It’s a new path that didn’t exist before. And even though you never — not ever — would have chosen this path, it is put before you; missing the opportunity in it would be missing the point.
It would lessen the lesson of losing the love of your life. And I, for one, will never let that experience be diminished.
I was blessed with a love of a lifetime, but I’m not satisfied. Not quite yet. I’m still here, and I want more. And, I’m going to find it. I’m not sure what that looks like right now, but I know with complete certainty that Thom wants that for me. And, I know with complete certainty that I can do it for him.
— Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.