We're no strangers to grief and difficult things. Nobody finds Still Kickin because their life is perfect. And while we help people through all kinds of things — from domestic violence to ALS — we’ve learned to recognize that grief is a common thread to all of our work.
Some of our heroes have died, and the grief of death is obvious. We can recognize that one when we see it or experience it.
It’s harder for all of us to recognize grief in its other forms — when the subject of our sorrow isn’t the death of a person but the loss of something else.
We grieve our health, our identities, relationships that have ended due to addiction or violence or just two people falling out of love (or one person falling out of love). We grieve over and over in our lives, and every time we do it, it feels like we’re novices. Like we’ve never done it before. Because we haven’t! Each grief is new, fresh, a brand new experience that we will never have again.
We say, within the Hot Young Widows Club and our office and to anyone who will listen, that we do not move on... we move forward.
We are all the sum total of all of our experiences, even the unpleasant or downright awful ones. This doesn’t mean that we close ourselves around these experiences, that we make them the center of our lives forever, but that we tuck them inside ourselves, alongside our best moments and our mediocre moments.
Moving forward means living, as fully as we can, in the face of what we have experienced. It is an act of bravery and optimism to keep opening your eyes every day. To keep living in a world where bad things happen and life is hard. To keep loving people even though we have a 100% mortality rate.
This doesn’t mean it’s easy. It doesn’t mean it’s fun — not all the time, at least. It means we give our sadness and our grief the same respect and attention that we do to our joys and our happiness. It means we don’t rush people through the hard stuff just because it’s uncomfortable for us, and we don’t pressure ourselves to make our pain more palatable for other people.
It means we ask for help when we need it, and we give help when we can.
It means something different to everyone, because there’s no right way to grieve and no right way to live and if we’ve learned anything from five years of this work, we’ve learned that we’re all just a bunch of weirdos doing our best.
The Still Kickin Grief Guide is an e-course by Nora McInerny and Dr. Anna Roth that tackles all kinds of grief, including the obvious (the death of someone you care about) and the less-obvious (loss of health, identity, relationships, etc.). Enroll here.