When Does Grief End?

Every year, October 30th creeps up and every year it stings just as badly. Immediately I turn to my words as a place of comfort and solace.  I woke up this morning and immediately started clicking away at my keyboard snuggled in my childhood bed (I’m visiting my parents in New York from England.) The sense of grief is overwhelming today. October 30th is the day one of my very best childhood friends took her own life at the tender age of 16. 12 years have passed. Every day grief is present but I’m sure anyone who has lost someone very close to them, anniversaries present a fresh wound each and every year.

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Corey’s life and story has been such a driving force for my own life. I talk about her all the time. I tell her story. I advocate for mental health. I spread the message of hope far and wide. Unfortunately, this does not bring my very goofy, kind and fun loving friend back. It doesn’t replace the years we have lost. I never stop wondering who she would be now and what awesome memories we would have made. I never stop worrying about her sweet parents. I never stop feeling guilty.

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Nothing makes me more frustrated than when people tell others who are grieving that it’s time to “move on” or “get over it.” I live a very full life. I have incredible friends and a partner who I want to spend my future with, a loving family, a career and business I am building from the ground up and travel stories for days. I have lived such a beautiful life because as soon as I lost my best friend at 16, I was taken into grief and survival mode. Some people get angry, depressed, lonely, desperate. I drank through a lot of the sadness but I also WOKE UP.

 I knew that life was short and that it was my duty to life it to the fullest. It was my job. Despite the overwhelming grief I knew I had to “cherish every day” (which I got tattooed on my foot.) It doesn’t mean the grief isn’t there, it means I’ve done something with it. I didn’t get over my grief, I used it to shape me into a kinder, more passionate, let’s do it right-fricken-now kind of person. So, I proudly have never gotten over the traumatic loss of my best friend, I have carried it with me and learned how to grieve and live simultaneously. Something that continues to be a work in progress.

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Grief: It means something

Every year it’s hard to see October 30th on the calendar. I used to hate October in general. Last year, it was the 10th anniversary of losing my best friend Corey to suicide. Luckily, I created a small project which you can read about here and I felt very connected to all of those who loved her in planning this surprise.  I also had the opportunity to share her story at my One Wave Fluro Friday in Bondi and it was received with so much compassion and love. That really meant something.

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This year, I am in a brand new town and apartment in England with my wonderful partner. I’m working from home so I will probably spend most of the day on my own working. Luckily, I feel deeply connected to my work- helping others work on their health  mind-body-spirit. Giving women their confidence back. Helping people pay attention to their mental health, self care and internal voice more than ever before.  Every year the emotions I feel today surprise me. I try to let myself feel and work through them however I can. It hurts but I want to make it mean something.

I think of Corey every single day of my life. If you have lost a loved one close to you, I’m sure you understand that this is not an exaggeration. Grief is a roller coaster ride and even 11 years later I am very much still on the ride. But I have leaned into that grief. I have dealt with it in a variety of ways, healthy and unhealthy. Losing Corey was the single greatest catalyst for learning to use my writing as therapy. As a 15 year old, I didn’t know how to cope. I didn’t want to ask for help. I didn’t even really know how to fully express my thoughts and feelings (hell some adults still don’t.) But when I wrote, it made me feel better. When I wrote the pain wasn’t too much to bear. That is why today, I write because it means something.

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Corey’s Heart

Anniversaries are traditionally special days where we celebrate important events. When the anniversary represents a painful event it sings a much different tune. Regardless, anniversaries make us nostalgic, reflective and in this case sad. But like John Green said, “It hurts because it matters.”

The amount of emotion the wells up in my chest, my heart, my conscious and subconscious brain around this time of year speaks volumes for how incredibly deep of an impact Corey had on the world and everyone who knew her. The amount of people who knew her should be remaining the same, but it seems as if the numbers grow.

The years creep past and suddenly, we have arrived at the ten year anniversary of her death. Ten years. That statement is surreal to me.  I swear that I can still hear her cackling laugh and I can still picture her mannerisms. I can chose what song she would play or which boy she would think was the cutest. Ten years. A decade without her sweet, beautiful, quirky self in this world.  

When I look back at one of the first pieces I wrote and shared publicly, Four Walls, I feel so much pure pain and emotion in my words- it always brings me to tears. I return to it now because sometimes I simply can’t say it better than myself.

“We are all surrounded by a new set of four walls. The walls are all different textures and colors. The wind whipping against the window pane smells different. The walls have different stories, and the rooms have different souls. Across the world, the country, through the state lines and the highways and the driveways, we still stare at our set of four walls.

No matter where we are, that insatiable pain is still there. We wrestle with the same thoughts. We breathe the same deep breaths. The breath you breathe so deep and so long just to know that you are alive. You’re still here.

Apart, we are solid colors, red, blue, white and green. We are strong and vivacious. We make an impact, cause a laugh, contribute to the team and shock others with our brilliance. That’s what we look like up close. We are separate entities that are just fine on their own. But much like the pixels of a television screen, when you look at us from a far…we are one. We come together to make a grander and even more powerful picture.”

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