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  • Writer's picturedennisharris04

Pulling Out of the Grief Nosedive

Updated: Aug 21, 2022

If you read my last blog, you know that I just said goodbye to a close friend. I want to share a little bit about my process of dealing with that loss. At some point in life we will all deal with losing someone and going through our own grieving process, it’s never easy. The good news is that we are not alone, even if we don’t have a big circle. Somebody will always be there to share with, if we are open to sharing…how do I know this? By the time I was 25 years old, I had said goodbye to my grandmother, mother, and my youngest uncle. By the time I was in my mid-thirties, I said goodbye to another uncle and then in my 40’s…a young nephew. These people that I lost had a couple of things in common, all of them were from the same immediate family, and none of them made it to sixty. My mother and my youngest uncle never even made it to forty and those two hit me the hardest.

When my Mom passed away, I buried her and was back to work Monday and moving on. I never allowed myself to fully internalize the amount of anger and hurt from it, instead priding myself on being able to move forward. Her death came back to the surface in many different forms over the years and affected me, and subsequently the people in my life. I didn’t allow myself to deal with it constructively, but the one thing I realize I did right when reflecting on things…I kept living life.

People have suggested that I may be conditioned to dealing with death now, but I can tell you that is not even close to the truth. I can tell you that each loss was different and affected me with lasting feelings that are varied. Some losses are easier to move past, and others we may need more help with. I just recently let go of the hurt and anger from the death of my mom by writing a goodbye letter. It was uplifting and the reason I keep pursuing letting this go is that I wanted to be the most complete version of myself. I had been hanging on to anger that was holding me back from real happiness. I also wanted that change in myself for my immediate family now, to give us the best shot at lasting happiness as a family.

The recent death of my friend made me realize that after all these years and losses experienced, I had gotten better at navigating the grieving and healing processes. Death didn't become familiar or easier, but I had allowed myself to find a way to process it in a healthier, more constructive manner. If we leave ourselves dealing with death over time, part of us will sort of have one foot in our own grave. A bit heavy, but never too late. If you are reading this, take this as a sign…take a deep breath and realize that you have a gift. That gift is life! It really is, and we owe it to ourselves to live every moment.

I have heard people say that when you lose someone close, a part of you dies as well. Think about nature when a big old tree dies and breaks down on the forest bed…it helps new growth. If you lost someone, instead of wondering if a part of you died, maybe a better question can be asked. Which part of you grew? Or can now grow moving forward? As people we already do a pretty good job of remembering more of the good times when someone passes, hence where the hurt comes from. So what grew? What did we learn from that person? How can we carry warm memories of that person in our lives? I think these are all better questions than “what am I missing?”

Life is truly an amazing gift if you do your best to keep your heart and mind open and keep striving to learn and better yourself. I’ve lost many friends and family during my life, but I have some great ones left and some that have come over time. I am still here to share, enjoy and celebrate every one of their moments. I get more excited watching my boys and others that I coach make a big play than I ever did when I played. Some of my friends have become more like family, as much they are friends. I get excited when I see them living out their dreams up on stage or taking a big step of any kind in life. There is a warm feeling when I think about the fact I have a better marriage and friend in my wife than I ever witnessed growing up.

With the recent death of my friend I took from the lessons I have learned and started off by allowing myself some down time to grieve, to share and remember both the bad times and the great times. I remember that one of the things he loved about me was my ability to live and look towards the light no matter how much dark was surrounding any one moment. After all this time, I have learned from grieving that we must ask for help, seek professional help if needed, share and let ourselves grow in whatever direction each different experience takes you. It is an amazing gift to get up with my family, look out to the mountains and start about the day. I can strap a board on my car and go for a paddle, sit down to share by writing, play guitar or even jump in my car to visit a close friend. This life can be dark, hard, brutal and beat you to your knees at any turn of the mile. We don’t have to stay there, life can also be beautiful and amazing if you choose to get up and are willing to at least try. My circle is now made up of my family and close friends, people that I could never have imagined their impact and existence if you would have asked me at 25 years old.

I never stopped living or looking for the answers to my pain caused by my grief and other various things in my life. Death challenges us, makes us think about our own mortality especially if someone goes far too young. It also paves the way for growth and a new path if you allow yourself to have the courage to see it that way. I know some loss feels like you will never recover, but a life lived to the fullest brings amazing healing and has unlimited power when you fully commit. Own your hard and embrace the suck. Carry the best parts of any person you have said goodbye to on some fantastic adventures. Saying goodbye this week started with anger from not being able to actually say goodbye in person, to wanting to start charging after new experiences, more exercise and getting out on the water. I want to make more of an effort to see old friends and meet new ones. The breath we are taking right now is a gift that we have the power to use any way we choose…how are you using yours?

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