The Tidal Wave of Grief in 2020

Hi Grief, it’s me again. This year grief hits differently as the collective experience of 2020 has been one of emotional turmoil, heavy emotions and lessons so big you can’t run away from them. Today is October 30th. The anniversary of my dear friend, Corinne Marie Craig leaving this world too soon. 

Every year the month of October brings immense feelings of sorrow and grief. 

Every year something new pops up…that I realize is an unhealed part of my heart. 

Every year memories of Corey and this day flood back to my mind like a tidal wave. 

The wave swells and breaks the morning of the anniversary 

As I open my eyes and scurry out of bed to turn off the alarm on my phone.

Seeing the date October 30th on my phone screen still makes my stomach drop… 14 years later. 

I have come to rely on my words today and I have been told by a lot of mutual friends they have to. I try not to let that impact what I say. Because grief is so unique. Grief is so raw…no matter how acquainted you may be. My experience of losing Corey and living and growing up with grief may be completely different than yours. Maybe you’re reading this and you never met Corey, but you identify with grief because you’ve lost someone you love who can never be replaced. Maybe you loved Corey and any piece of her memory is comforting. Either way, grief is a vulnerable topic but I need words to help me heal. I needed vulnerability to set me free. I didn’t need this pain but I have it and words seem to be the only way I can continue to carry the weight.

Over the years I have shared about a lot regarding Corey’s life, death & everything in between (you can click the links if you want to read more): An open letter to grief, Dealing with the anniversary abroad , my journey with grief  , Corey’s story  , The impact she has had , remembering 10 years without her , My own mental health struggles and What it’s like being left behind by suicide. 

As I grow older, the friends I need to reach out to and console seem to multiply. Just this month we lost another childhood friend and I still can’t believe it. Last year, grief felt like a friend… this year grief feels more like a nosy neighbor you just can’t get away from. Grief has become a perpetual part of life and as a human race we are grieving a world that looked much different this time last year while simultaneously grieving those we would give anything to have back in our world earthside. 

It is important to me to remember Corey for the person she was. To celebrate her life and her legacy. She was beautiful inside and out. She was spunky and funny. She was caring and empathetic. She was definitely wise beyond her years with a childlike playfulness. She was a talented cheerleader and a friend to the underdog. Those closest to her understood how critical she was of herself and I know we all wished she could see herself the way that we saw her. I still wish that. 

I am confident a part of her spirit lives in me. “I carry your heart, I carry it in my heart” She inspires my work daily and I talk about her often to let her live on in the hearts of others who didn’t get the chance to meet her. My fiance said to me this morning in a long bear hug before he scurried off to work, “I wish I could have met her.” Here comes the tidal wave. Me too. Me too. But you met me, and I would not be this woman if I didn’t know, love and lose Corey so young. No matter what relationship I have with my writing and blog, on October 30th my words find their way to the surface. Because I feel they can play a tiny part of keeping her alive. 

The tidal wave of emotions surrounding this day is impossible to accurately put into words.

Much like a tidal wave the power is immense but unpredictable.

It’s power drops you into the present moment even when other days you can stuff it down and stay afloat. 

There is no timeline for the ripple effect of a giant swell because the wave may catch your attention but it’s the aftermath that takes the work.

If anything losing Corey woke me up to the kind of friend and person I wanted to be. 

It’s not easy to speak up for yourself or for others. 

It’s not easy to “make a big deal” over your own mental health or a loved ones. 

It’s not easy to put your lifejacket for the wave and help someone else do so too. 

It’s not easy to do it, after all these years, when it seems like…to some…life should  “move on.”

Talking about suicide prevention is not easy but I can tell you losing people you love to suicide is much more difficult. 

Many people are meeting themselves in 2020 in a way society never allowed for before. 

Many people are hearing what’s happening between their own two ears because the world has slowed to a halt and the distractions have diminished. Parties, vacations, concerts, any semblance of normal life has been taken away completely or put on pause. Many people are experiencing grief for the first time or have had their tidal wave of past grief triggered. Either way, it’s been a rollercoaster, a nosy neighbor you can’t seem to get rid of, a dark cloud, or a lingering sting.

I don’t seem to have answers today. I always hope I will. But the circumstance and uncertainty of the world leaves us all a bit more vulnerable than usual. 

I do know, I miss my friend. I do know I am proud of myself for showing up even when I don’t have all the answers. Showing up to simply say, hi, I’m here and so is the tidal wave. But I swim, float, and tread on. And I share. Because the resounding message of hope that has carried me through every single hardship I’ve faced in my thirty wild years on this planet is “You are not alone” I say this to anyone who is struggling with their mental health, who is struggling with grief, who is struggling with asking for help or being honest about the hardships currently on their plate. I say it with depth and soul. It’s not a throw away comment for me. It’s a battle cry of hope for those of us who endlessly search for a sense of belonging and to feel understood. 

You are not alone if your tidal wave feels unpredictable. 

You are not alone if you feel triggered by the sadness and uncomfortable with the vulnerability.

You are not alone if right now it feels easier not to talk about things.

You are not alone if you feel like a burden on your loved ones. You are not a burden. 

You are not alone if you are afraid to seek professional help. Please do it anyway. 

You are not alone if you are embarrassed by your suffering in comparison to someone else’s.

You are not alone reading this. I am with you.

You are not alone if you miss Corey, because we know she has been there with us all along. 

You are not alone if you don’t have the answers, maybe just the questions need attention too. 

The beautiful thing about waves is that they keep coming. 

The difficult thing about waves is that they keep coming. 

The beautiful thing about connection is that it keeps coming. 

The difficult thing about connection is that it takes work. 

For many, our connection is grief. We share in this tidal wave. But our connection is also Corey. Her spirit. Her heart. We carry her heart. The goodness in her lingers with the pain. All we can do is continue to ride the waves together. You are not alone.

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