Grief, When No One Died

I died just yesterday and today, I’m grieving hard.

It was March, about a year ago, and I thought to myself, “My life is about to drastically change.” It was the move and the marriage and the new job and the new community. All of it was approaching quickly and knocking and waiting for me to step into it. There was so much about it that caught my attention with the newness and the adventure.

The only problem was me.

I loved who I was and still love that woman. I loved her days and her contributions and her people. I loved her posture and her ways of being and her rhythms. I knew her well and felt very confident in her.

And yet, this relentless pull towards the big change – the move and the marriage and pace of life. It was the adventure and the newness.

So it all happened. And of course moving to a far-away country newly married sounds like a fairy tale. Amazingly whimsical and light. Curiosity leading the days. Wonder at what’s unfolding. An unending Instagram account of jaw-dropping photos and endless travel stories.

What happened instead, though, was grief. Sad, empty, gut-wrenching grief.

The new life held sweet visions of new friends and new place and new rhythms and new life. And while these things are true, they more often have me dreaming of the little sanctuary in our little home. It’s the one place of familiarity and uncomplicated living.

I knew big change was coming. And in some ways, I felt the impending loss long before the transition to brand new happened. At the time it was head knowledge. My mind knew because I was planning and preparing and making arrangements for a wedding and an international move and applications to new work. It was barely sad, mostly steeped in excitement, and bittersweet at best. After all, it was a wedding and an international move and a millennial’s dream to pack it all up and go.

Then between the joy and the tears, that day came. We stood at the gates of Denver International Airport just six days after we exchanged wedding vows. And with the sheer weight of all the change that had taken place, I knew who I was would never be who I could carry with me going forward.

Even so, it took me by surprise. When we showed up in our new home in a little village by the sea, I expected to make friends and jump into my new job and find a rhythm here with a new husband, whom I love. But everything felt exhausting. I had found myself in the middle of sadness, loss, and confusion. Over and over again, I would ask, “Why could I not be in all the places that I know bring me joy – people and places and work and church?”

There’s this rhythm to life. We build up frames of who we are, grids to operate by. Then the frames get challenged or they don’t fit anymore, which is the part that leaves us uncomfortable and confused. And because that isn’t sustainable, the frames deconstruct. They fall apart only to be reformed into something new and better and more useful. And while that sounds like a simple process, it’s awfully painful.

So while no one died, I feel immense grief for the one who once was. The life that was. The rhythm that was. I knew she would be different, no doubt, but when it all happened – the move, the marriage, the new community – I needed and still often need space to honor who that woman was in her fullness.

But none of it aligned as I had envisioned. What was cued up to be exciting and fresh and the best experience of a lifetime has an often unspoken but all too common start to it – mostly bitter, awfully sad, and painfully exhausting. And it has all been because everything new felt like a slap in the face to the old. I needed space to respect who and what was, to remember who and what was, and to properly lay to rest who and what was. I needed to deconstruct, to fall apart, to grieve in a space and a season typically used to build and to create and to form.

So it took a good while, but I allowed myself to deconstruct. To fall apart, even though I’m in a season that I thought needed me to be put together. To be deeply sad, even though I’m in a season that I thought needed me to be excited and happy. To retreat, even though I’m in a season I thought needed me to be out and engaged.

And that’s where we are. Deconstructing bit by bit. Paying my respects to the woman who was and trusting that the woman I’m being created into will be who I need even more. It’s a desolate place to be. And even more so when the actually story doesn’t line up with the typical script anymore.

Timing is rarely ever “right” by our standards, and yet I think when we look back, we see that the rhythm and pace and circumstance was always what needed to be. Whether we choose to believe it or not, we live our lives in building blocks for the next season, showing up exactly how we need to, becoming who we were created to be but only when we choose to enter into it all fully. And by fully, I mean by embracing all parts of not simply our circumstances, but the work that is being created and birthed right within us.

So finally, after nearly a year but maybe actually a lifetime, I’m finally allowing myself to feel sadness – to embrace sadness – even though I’m known to show up as much the opposite. I’m allowing myself to be undone, even though I usually operate differently. I’m allowing myself to let go and to free fall into this new understanding of myself and the story I’m writing, because what I know for sure is that we always are held in the free fall and timed correctly into every season.

And so, while I died last night, I’m actually living more than I did yesterday.

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Jodi Dittman says:

    I love to hear what you’re processing, lady. Thanks for sharing. Love you!!

    1. Kristyn says:

      Love you so much, friend. And miss you a whole bunch too. Thanks a million for your comment and encouragement!

  2. Love this, Kristyn! I haven’t been in that situation, so I can only imagine how much difficulty there would be in navigating so many changes at once, and I’m proud of you for recognizing what you need in this season and taking steps to reconcile your old life with your new, your ideals with your reality, your past self with your future self. Love you!

    1. Kristyn says:

      Thanks so much for your message, Jessie! Always appreciate your love and support 🙂 Hope you are well!

  3. Tim Weddington says:

    I’ve been there, Kristyn. It’s good you’re letting it all in now. As a positive and upbeat person, i’m sure it’s been difficult. However, you will emerge from this season with greater depth and empathy. Perhaps with more underlying melancholy than existed before, but there is a more profound comfort there…you will realize that your mood is not central to your sense of well-being and spiritual peace. I wish, as others who care about you must, this experience was unnecessary. I am so sorry you are going through this but I have complete confidence you’ll come out a better version of yourself and God will protect your heart in the meantime. Cheers.

    1. Kristyn says:

      Tim! Thanks so much for your message. I’m certainly grateful and expectant in this season, that’s for sure. Growing and learning so much every day. I appreciate your continued cheers and support!

  4. Megan Pierce says:

    Wow. Thank you for giving voice to the grief, for normalizing the disappointment, for inviting us into the journey… This post is strangely comforting– gives space for others to lament their own losses. Thanks for your vulnerability, sweet friend.

    1. Kristyn says:

      Thanks a million times over for your love and encouragement and support, sister. So much love to you!

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