Ally’s life changed in the blink of an eye just 6 months ago when her 20-year-old daughter and best friend, Cadence, was killed in a tragic car accident. Talking with Ally last month brought me back to those early days, weeks and months after losing Andy.
Outsiders may have a hard time understanding this, but after losing your child, you feel like you are living your whole life in a fog. Nothing about life makes sense anymore. Things, places and activities that brought you comfort and joy in the past suddenly don’t anymore. You may even find yourself drawn to places that you used to avoid before the loss.
That’s what really hit me when I was talking to Ally. She is trying to make sense of this new confusing world. She says that she initially thought after Cadence died, that she would never want to leave her hometown again. Cadence loved that small town in Colorado, and Ally thought she would want to spend every moment there. It turns out, however, that is not what Ally needs right now. In the 5 months between Cadence’s death and our talk, Cadence has stayed in her own bed 10 nights. She has traveled all over, staying with friends and family, trying to figure out how to keep living. The place that she thought would give her peace, for now, just gives painful memories.
The key words in that last sentence are ‘for now’ because when you are grieving, things change so much. At first after Andy died, I did not want to go to our cottage up north. It was his favorite place in the world. Being there without him felt wrong and incredibly painful. Five years later, however, it is my favorite place to be. It brings me peace, and I feel him there with us as we go up as a family. Along the same note, when I think about visiting the cemetery, there have been times where it has brought comfort and I have gone several times in a week and other times, when it increased the pain and I avoided going for weeks at a time.
That is why being patient with ourselves is so important as we grieve. We don’t know how to keep living, but we do, one day and one moment at a time.