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I’ve recently been listening to a new podcast called Modern Love that was introduced to me by my sister. The podcast explores what love means, featuring top actors performing true stories of love, loss, and redemption. I do highly recommend you give you it a listen but it was really the most recent episode called “Are You My Husband?” that triggered me to sit down and write this piece.

Are You My Husband was originally written as an essay about one women’s husband who has been in a biking accent and suffers from a traumatic brain injury that results in a long recovery, disability and personality change. As heart breaking as the story is, the one thing that shines bright and stunned me was the ability for this women to find hope in one of the darkest situations life could throw at her.

Her grief for the loss of her husband before the accident is something I couldn’t even begin to comprehend. What’s more, I am in awe of her ability to find the hope to keep going. I feel if I ever found myself in a similar situation, I would crumble completely.

But it did get me thinking about grief and about hope.

The grief that is felt by those who feel they have lost who they once were due to a mental health issue or illness is one that is not often addressed or spoke about. Grief is one of the most heavy and damaging emotions we can carry around with us. It manifests itself in our physical bodies through  illness, fatigue and pain and it buries into our ability to find enjoyment, even at times causing sever PTSD.

Grief is one of the most heavy and damaging emotions we can carry around with us.

Giving those that feel they have lost the happy, care free person they once were a chance to grieve may help us to find some sort of forgiveness and hope for the future. Personally, I whole heartily believe that finding that hope is one of the most powerful catalysts to recovery and peace.

Too often, we are too quick to dismiss a friend or loved one when they articulate this lost, when they reminisce on how they once could deal with life. It’s painful to accept that sometimes things do change and not always for the better. It’s heart-breaking to come to terms with the fact that perhaps things will never truly be as they once were and often unbearable to dust off the shame. The shame that we should have been stronger. That if we were stronger, we could lift us out of our depression, our anxiety, our compulses or our personality changes.

Finding a way to allow ourselves to fully feel our grief is possibly once of the most looked over yet most important step to overcoming or learning to live with a mental illness. It allows us to start to gently walk the path to acceptance and that acceptance gifts us with the power to find hope.

A light in the darkness. Hope comes hand in hand with vulnerability. The idea that you can dare to dream that things will get better, knowing that there will still be hardships to overcome along the way.

If we are till experiencing trauma, if we are still mourning our loss and tortured by sadness, then we become blinded to the hope that lies before us. We feel the future is closed to us, a stiffened door that will never give way no matter how hard we push and no matter how bloodied our hands become in our effort to be let in.

I don’t know who might need to hear this. I don’t know how many of us are still carrying around the sickness of grief but I want us to know that we have permission to let it in. It is never weak to experience our trauma and it is never shameful to ask for a shoulder to cry on while we give into the healing process.

And from this, we will find hope. We will experience a reason to enter into the future. We can find the belief that things will get better and the faith to comfort us through the dark nights. And with this hope, we will discover peace.