lighted candle

The Other Side Of Grief

Losing my mom destroyed me and made me fearless.

These opposing truths became abundantly clear as days became months and my list of firsts grew with every ending that was expected. The illusion that I was impenetrable to loss quickly shattered, and grief permeated my life in all ways at once. Grief became an unwanted companion that made its presence known in all moments – both big and small, loud and quiet, dark and light. Touching my bottom and integrating grief in my life enabled me to take chances that I normally wouldn’t, since my loss was so profound. After losing something—or in this case, someone—so critical to your well being and being forced with this reckoning, a lot of things that seemed impossible suddenly became possible after surviving loss. My greatest transformation has occurred in the wake of this loss, birthing a new identity and learning to detach from the idea that everything happens for a reason.

Losing a parent can pose existential and recurring questions in your mind’s eye.

What is real about my existence?

Who am I now that my mom is formless?

What is the afterlife?

How can you honor someone who gifted you your existence?

What role do I play in my family’s dynamic post loss?

How will I endure future milestones with my mom?

Am I crazy or is this grief?

I was feeling every inch of my being at 29 when my mom physically transcended. I suddenly realized how fortunate I was to not experience grief firsthand until my late 20s. Instantly, I felt compassion and sent meta to others who paved the way before me. It’s unbelievable that people you love can unexpectedly leave this Earth, and yet you’re still here enduring life without them. The holidays, birthdays, and milestones are just a few inevitable realities that occur when your loved one departs.

Being a Gemini, I am tasked with seeing two sides to most things. That doesn’t always end in resolution, but in this case, it allowed me to embrace the other side of grief, which was a new beginning.

“If you are brave enough to say goodbye, life will reward you with a new hello.” – Paul Coelho

My journey with grief is constantly evolving, and I remind myself daily to be patient when I greet it. Loss has humbled me profoundly, recognizing where I was too judgmental in the past and opened me to live a purpose-driven life by serving others. I experience life with a new perspective, a shedding of my previous life in order to be fully present for loss of all sizes and to honor those on their journeys in parallel to my own, regardless of timeline.

Kalea Cleeton is a writer and health coach residing in northern CA.

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