Grief can’t be bottled into phases. It can’t be explained away. You can’t tell anyone how to grieve, or know how they will. You can’t even know yourself how grief will hit you, or what it will feel like. It’s a million feelings rolled into one, and complete numbness all at the same time. Sometimes, it’s sadness so deep that your insides literally ache, and your throat hurts. Sometimes it feels like someone is stabbing you in the chest. Sometimes it's a lump in your throat that won't go away, no matter how many times you swallow, or how much tea you drink. Sometimes it’s rage, anger, a feeling like you want to explode with fire. Sometimes it’s joy and gratefulness at the memories. The moments, that you wouldn’t give up for anything. Gratefulness for the sweetness, the years of laughter, the smiles, the snuggles, the love. Gratefulness that you got the gift of experiencing that person, and sharing life with them, even if it was too short. Gratefulness, and joy, and laughter, followed by a hollow, aching emptiness of the realization, that in this life, or in this time, you can’t have or hold what you so greatly love. Some moments it’s peace, because you feel them so strongly, it’s like they are there with you, in breaths, in moments. You can almost feel them nuzzle against you, or hear their heartbeat, or catch their smile from the corner of your eye. It’s denial, because there is a part of your soul that just can’t accept that they are no longer there with you. Maybe it’s the part of us that is eternal, that knows that love can’t ever fully leave us, that knows there soul is still connected to yours endlessly, woven into the very parts of who you are. Denial, because you can’t imagine going one day without being able to hear their voice, or share a laugh, or put your arms around them, or share a little piece of your day. You can’t imagine going one more day, let alone the rest of your days. And sometimes it’s numbness. Numbness, that shuts down all emotion, all thoughts. Numbness, because you feel too much, so much, that your body just can’t take it, so it goes into survival mode, and just shuts all feeling off. Numbness, because you have to go on, you have to survive without something or someone you didn’t think you could live without, but you have to. You have to keep living. So you keep moving, and you keep breathing, and you keep putting one foot in front of the other, and you keep doing the things you have to do to survive, but you feel nothing, because nothing feels better than feeling everything, until it doesn’t. And even though you don’t feel it, the grief is still there, in your skin, in your muscles, in your organs, in your bones, in your soul, just waiting to be allowed out again. To be released, to be expressed, to be felt up and out. But grief isn’t on a timeline. It doesn’t have an end date. Missing someone doesn’t just go away. Life goes on, despite feeling like it would stop, it keeps moving. There are still happy moments. There are still smiles, there is still laughter, there are still hugs, and blessings. There are beautiful people that come into your life, or grow more deeply into your life, and fill some of the hollow space that the grief left behind. Because life does keep moving, and it keeps being beautiful, even in the pain, even through the pain. And as you move through the pain, you may even find, that happiness creeps its way into your life again. That the empty spaces and the ache isn’t so present, as it’s given way to the warmth of new memories, and new moments. But the truth of grief, the truth of missing someone who’s gone, is that you never stop missing them. It doesn’t ever go away. Love fills the hollow spaces, but it never takes away the love they left with you, the love that still fills a part of your soul, and with that, the longing never fully goes away. You start get used to living without them. It becomes normal, instead of foreign, and the laughter takes place of the tears more and more frequently. But there will always be moments when the loss hits you all over again, like a fist in your gut. Maybe it’s a photo that you come across that floods you with love and memories, and longing. Or maybe it’s a moment, that is so familiar, it’s almost as if reliving a moment when they were there, but they’re not. Or maybe it’s when life is hard, and you wish more than anything that you could just talk to them, or give them a hug, because they always made the hardest moments so much better. But there is a piece of grieving that never fully leaves us. So grieve. Allow yourself to feel. Let it come up and out. Let it come streaming from your muscles and your bones, and your gut, and cry it out, yell it out, laugh it out, let yourself become a heap of salty tears, and sloppy runny nose on the floor. Because grief is love, and it’s ok, no matter how it looks or feels, and you have to get it out of your body.