Crystal Conroy is a local mama, yoga teacher, and photographer, whose guided meditations and yoga practices we have shared on the blog over the past year. This week, she also shared a reflection on the past few years, during which she has navigated new motherhood and shattering grief. Her ability to articulate this is powerful. Grief, in some form, is something we’re all walking right now – so the more grief-literate we become, as a community – by which I mean, the better we are able to understand the banality, the presence, the complexity of this experience, the better we can feel okay with where we’re at, and support each other. I appreciate Crystal’s willingness to share these thoughts with the broader community.
Friends, it’s been a wild ride these last few years. The last 4 to be more precise. Journeying into the joy of motherhood which opened my heart to feel the enrichment of this life & universe in a way I had never known before and then a few short months after that I experienced the devastating loss of my sister that ripped my family apart to a million pieces, as we witnessed her leave this world.
Shattered is a one of the words I would choose to describe the world I experienced after that.
I’ve been piecing fragments of my self together through early grief, and feeling them crumble again and again for some time now. Healing. Feeling. Living through and with it all. G
rief is also a process of coming home to myself in a way I could have never known before. Coming home to myself is the only way I can heal otherwise I’d be lost in complete dissociation of self to protect from the feelings of pain.
Grief is so complex…
I had no idea how to proceed from that place.
I was in no way prepared to live through that reality but, I did and do.
Grief-related and postpartum-related anxiety sky rocketed in me in a way that felt like it highjacked my body & mind. I fumbled to hold any of my fragmented pieces together. I forgot how joy felt without guilt (early grief kind of robs grievers of this for a long while, or at least that was my personal experience), my nervous system was in a constant state of fight or flight and, my digestive system went haywire.
As a result of the combination of all of this my mental health has been probably at an all time low through this all. Naturally.
I’m so thankful for SUPPORT.
For quiet nature moments.
For quiet…whenever it comes.
of family, friends, community, other grievers, counseling, coaching, mindfulness, meditation, yoga, breathwork, herbs, the mountains, the forest, my husband, my biggest ‘littlest teachers – my kids, for communication, for music, words,
Books, and poems. For the palpable sensations of being human. For raw, real & wild emotions…
Especially the support of people who honestly simply put- continued to show up…
I’m writing this because it’s a New Year. In my experience the start of a New Year can feel so heavy in early grief. The feelings of: how can another year without our loved one even exist?…
The first few New Years after my sister felt so awful to move into. And Christmas was mostly unbearable really. The wound in our family became so extra palpable and, as a grieving friend of mine recently described it for her as a gut punch feeling. Yep. That. And so much more complex…
This year the feeling didn’t come as it had before, it did finally come a few days ago out of the blue (as it goes). Lighter than before, it had more fluidity to it, more like a gentle movement by the sea shore than the previous title wave I’ve been used to.
Sensations change. I welcomed this new lighter sensation. Then the guilt set in… guilt that it could even feel lighter.
Integrating the grieving experience into my life where joy also exists has been a healing process. At first joy could not exist for me without guilt. Slowly that is changing. I’ve been experiencing real FULL bodied joyful moments lately.
It’s all integrating…
Piece by piece
Breath by breath
There are so many emotions with grief….
So my grievers.
“Grief is a friend we don’t know ‘til we meet
She walks alongside us ‘til we find relief’
– Holly Arrowsmith (Every Kingdom 🎶
For my grieving friends. This song and video will land softly in your soul, you may cry and feel at home at the same time. Like I did. This song & stunning creative video show how early grief and waves of later grief feels like in such a tangible way. It is so powerfully beautiful. I was speechless.