This Journey We Share

Author: Amy Dozier

Dear You,

We have had quite the journey together, haven't we? Thank you for being there for me in my darkest hours and in my brightest accomplishments. We have grown so much and come so far! The world has seemed like a sad a scary place recently and I have been reminded, yet again, how important it is to find my balance amid the storms that pass. I used to think grief was a step-by-step process; that once I was "all done", I would be "better" and back to "normal".  This I've learned is a massively fallacious concept. Grief is like a shadow following us around, taking on different shapes and sizes at any given time. It's a part of who we are since the death of our loved one and it doesn't go away. Guess what? That might actually be a good thing. Grief is the reminder that we are so incredibly lucky to have felt love.

Survivors Embrace

I think sometimes, we feel the need to only move forward, that doing so is the only way to accomplish something positive. There have been a lot of changes in our community recently and I have seen the tone of our hearts change greatly as a result. What has happened to some of our Gold Star Families-and in Chattanooga- could happen to any one of us. I'm so fearful this tornado of negativity has stirred up a lot of emotions in many, especially those who have suffered a traumatic loss.

When devastation occurs in the lives of one of our own, it happens to all of us. We feel their pain so deeply and sometimes the pain from our own past experiences, too. I have recently struggled with the idea that I take steps backwards in my grief. However, I am choosing to look at this a little differently today. When the shadow of grief is cast over me, I can do one of two things: I can either see it as all of my old emotional junk dragging me down, or I can turn it into a springboard for action. I want to pick the latter more often, but sometimes I need help with this. That is why I count on my greatest support network-you. You get it. You get me. And every once in a while, I find myself back at my therapist's office, not because I am weak, but because I have the courage to open my heart and sort out the many emotions that flood it. Scary? Yes. Imperative for my continued growth? Absolutely.

I am so grateful to have you to talk to; to laugh and cry with; to share stories with. Look at how far we have come. It's beautiful we are actively turning tragedy into a story that helps ourselves and others heal, even if it sometimes seems slow going. We have each other and we have so many resources to help us through this storm. While grief may never leave us, we can help put it to rest occasionally by grounding ourselves and being honest. Look around you right now and list 5 things you can see, 4 things you can touch, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell, and one thing you can taste. Do it again. Take your time. This is grounding. This is you controlling your body in space right now and connecting with the earth below you. Close your eyes, breathe in and let yourself feel whatever is in your heart. Sit with that for a moment and know that you are okay. Exhale. You're still okay even if it hurts. I promise.

If there is ever a day you doubt yourself, remember this: you are amazing because you are here; you are so worthy because you try. You always have the capacity-and the permission- to rewrite your story when you feel it isn't quite the way you want it. Some days the focus is simply keeping your head above the water. Other days include reminding yourself your track record of getting through the hard times is currently at 100%! Maybe you'll find an "accountability friend" who will help push you through your challenges as you find greater strength. Again, what you choose for self-care is the right thing for you! This journey is difficult, but oh, it is every bit as beautiful because we have each other. Take care of you and know that you are loved by so many, including me.

With all of my love and continued support,