I’ve often wondered how loss and grief shape us into becoming who we are. Particularly if loss came at a young age and the way in which our identities evolve as we move into adulthood and take up life’s various responsibilities, outside and within the workspace. Usually and for many of us, loss precedes grief, but sometimes it’s the opposite; yet whatever comes first, one cannot ever discount the magnitude of emotions that each is packed with.

10 years ago, having just turned 14, I lost my father to cancer. Coupled with the fact that 3 months prior to that my family and I had just relocated back to a country (Kenya) that felt so distant from being what home ought to have been and felt like, everything was simply a blur. There are many things I remember about that period of time, many others that I’ve forgotten, but what is certain is that life then seemed to be carrying us through the days, letting time tick away to the reality of what we would have to begin to live with. And when death finally knocked at our doorstep, so began the mourning and the grief period. A period that truly has no timeline to it but one that requires you to acknowledge the life that was, the gift you were once given through someone, the wisdom a parent imparted in you, and the strength they have left you with to hold on to as you journey on through life.

But as the years have gone by, I’ve come to see how time doesn’t just heal you from the pain of losing a parent. It adds another layer to this process by giving you experiences. Time lets you meet others who have journeyed through the same and are standing just as tall, if not taller. Time allows you to live so vibrantly appreciating this gift of life, cherishing each and every moment and people around you with a wild spirit of gratitude. Time powers you up to experience life sometimes with a bit too much charisma, some which others cannot quite understand where it comes from, but which is deeply drawn from the lives of those who once were, those you once loved, and those whose departure transformed you.  

Time allows you to cherish the people and moments around you with a wild spirit of gratitude.

What you realize is that you don’t just wake up one day from the pain of losing someone and find it all gone. No. You carry those you’ve lost in your hearts for many reasons, allowing their memories to dwell within, allowing the years to mend whatever wounds their departure left, but also making little room for new joys and trusting that each step we take is led from the knowledge that we are not alone (loss can often have us feeling and believing that).

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the years about loss (of whatever kind) is to be vulnerable enough to embrace the grieving process and let the journey of healing begin. And that death doesn’t just steal – in taking, it also gives.

If you’ve ever loved and lost someone in your life, I hope you can lean on to the knowledge that in times of grief, in times mourning and in times remembrance, with every breath you take, Grace (whatever and however you perceive it to be) fills in that short pause, and Grace strengthens you to take the next breath and lift your head up high for yet another day.

My father taught me to see the world in its bright colors and embrace the uniqueness it has to offer through its imperfection. Loss and grief are just but a part of life’s many colors and yes, imperfections; may we learn to also embrace the processes that come with it.