I used to think grief had a destination. There was a place in the distance where everything was going to be okay. The past would heal. Life would return to “normal.” Somewhere out there everything was going to be okay.

Benjamin June 17 LayersOkay is not out there. If I am to find okay, I need to find it in here.

I heard someone in deep grief say, “It’s two steps forward and one step back.” She, too, must have my earlier understanding of how grief works. I no longer see forward and backwards. I only experience steps.

But where do these steps go? Where are they leading me to and where are they leading me from?

In my Afterloss, grief is not linear. The multi-layers of my sorrow take me deeper into places that I never knew existed. My steps go inward, layer after layer, not forward.

I experience the heaviness of sorrow, the depths of pain, directionless, emptiness…and more, all the elements of loss. Each step I take takes me deeper into the experience of loss. I go through one layer and find another, and another, and another.

At first, I thought I was getting nowhere and I was frustrated. I thought I must be doing something wrong. I’m back where I started, I thought. On many days it felt like one step forward and two steps back. But then I realized, the reason I felt I was getting nowhere was because there was nowhere to get to.

Benjamin June 17 OkayThere was nowhere I could go where my loss would not be. At work, I lived in loss. At play, I lived in loss. In relationships, I lived in loss. I lived in loss everywhere and I need to find a way to live life in loss. I needed to find peace with my loss. And in so doing, I found peace with my life.

When I accepted I was forever reshaped by death, I was able to go into what it meant for me now to live. Life was not over. Life had changed. I had changed. I needed to step into the change and go where my steps took me.

In one of the most difficult times in my changing, ever evolving world someone said, “Don’t worry. You’ll feel better. You’ll feel pain better. You’ll feel sadness better. You’ll feel all your emotions better.”

Another way to say it is that I feel everything more intensely. For me, there is no better or worse. There only is. And I gauge my engagement with the moment with how deeply I enter what I am experiencing on any given moment. And I want to go as deep as I possibly can into every moment I am given.

My life, in its reshaping by loss, feels deeply. Every moment cascades into layers. On the surface, I go through the motions and emotions congruent to the day. Beneath the surface, I journey realms beyond surface dwelling, invisible to those living without loss.

There are many overwhelming moments when my steps take me under. On the surface, I am immobilized. It’s like someone in a coma that is fully conscious of the world around them, but simply cannot move.

Benjamin June 17 reshapedTo the outside world, I’m withdrawn. But what is really going on is I’m being drawn into something deeper. I step into my sorrow and my steps guide me to places beneath the mayhem of their moments into my moment, my search, my discoveries…my tranquility…my loss…my life.

I return and return to those places; and to the world around me, I’m back there again. But I do not return to the same place. The interior world is one of fluidity and there is no such thing as the same place.

One layer opens another layer. As a famous Greek philosopher said thousands of years ago, “You never step in the same river twice,” I know I never step in any experience, either internally or externally twice. I return, but not again.

Healing for me is being able to harmonize all of me and integrate my loss into living. It is not getting over my loss. It is finding peace with my loss.

I have found peace with my life. I have found peace in my steps that do not go forwards or backwards. I am not the same as I was, but who is?

Others can live in the illusion of sameness, but my experience with losing the ones I love so dearly has shown me love changes. Love changes form, but the nexus of love is changeless in substance. I have found my steps into the layers of my loss in the ever-changing love that never changes. I will always love the ones I love, but I will love them in love’s fluidity as it flows through every moment, every breath, beyond moment, beyond breath.

Benjamin June 17 Two stepsSo, there is no “two steps forward and one step back” for me. There are only steps. And each step takes me deeper into the expanse of what it means to love, to live, to live in loss in the midst of love, to step as deeply as I can into this moment and see where it takes me.

In my world of the Afterloss, there is no place I need to get to. Wherever I am, I am already there.

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