Grief – The Ultimate Permission-Giver

I thought I was losing my mind after my Pop’s died.

No joke.

I began to think the dementia that finally ravaged his brain, was about to do the same to mine.

I couldn’t think straight, literally.

My short-term memory was shot.

Which sent me down the Google rabbit-hole where I found helpful articles that explain how grief is not just processed emotionally and spiritually; it’s processed physically as well.

 

Lightbulb moment; that makes total fucking sense, I thought!

 

I didn’t question my sanity after that.

Instead, I got really intentional about taking care of myself and my grief.

 

POST-PHYSICAL GRIEF REVELATION

What unfolded after that has been interesting because grief became the ultimate permission-giver to say “no”.

 

Because grief left me feeling depleted of almost everything – mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically – I gave zero f*cks in life.

 

With not much left in my tank – if you’re not my husband, daughter, or client – I rarely have anything left over to give.   

 

Protecting my energy has become a full-time job.

It’s made me say “no” to just about everything outside of my family, house, and work.

It’s made me say “yes” to everything that helps my world feel, well, soft and not so dreary.

 

And, damn, it feels so good.  

 

Which makes me question –

Why did grief have to give me the permission to say “no” to whatever I wanted to say “no” to?

Why couldn’t I have those boundaries without having to lose my favorite person in the whole world?

  

GRIEF – THE ULTIMATE PERMISSION GIVER

So, what does that actually look like?

You know, saying “no” when you want to and saying “yes” when you want to.

Being all congruent and aligned in life.

 

If it’s hard for you to place boundaries or say “no” when all you do is say “yes” – here are some examples of how I laid the grief/boundary smackdown.

 

  • Listen to your body. Bloody hell, if you’re tired, be tired.

Your grief body needs all the help it can get. Reschedule, cancel, leave the party, get in bed while the sun’s still up to tend to your tired.

I went to Scottsdale, AZ for a business trip and stayed in this magnificent, swanky-ass resort. After the conference, I passed out at 6:30pm and never really took in the beautiful place we were in.

That’s more than okay. I woke up refreshed and my body and brain were happy I did just that.

 

  • Be brutally honest with yourself and others.

Now that I know tending to my grief-self is #1 priority for me, I have very uncomfortable conversations with family, friends and even strangers.

I decline gatherings and invitations constantly (including holidays, birthdays and celebrations), or give the caveat I may not stay too long and tell people up front: In my grief process, currently, I get overwhelmed super easy, so if I do come to your shindig, don’t be surprised if I leave early.

I’ve ordered the wrong milk in a café and told the barista, “Sorry, my dad died recently and I’m completely out of it.”

When my family or close friends ask how I’m doing, my usual response is, “I’m here. You know, just feeling like my left arm is cut off and I don’t know where it is.”

The pre-grief Keli was a jovial little bitch and her remarks would have been, “Great!! How are you?”

Grief and death are subjects’ people can get squirrely with.

 

My honest response is to honor my journey…whether that makes you comfortable or not. 

And of course, I think these topics should be discussed more in life because they can be lonely and isolating if you don’t talk about them.

 

  • I fumble constantly but give myself GRACE.

Here’s where I fumble – when I think I can say “yes” to something (in the moment) but when the time comes, I actually don’t have it in me to do the thing I said “yes” to.

I’ve had to say “no” at the last minute to my very best friend more times in the last couple of months than I ever have in our lifelong friendship.

I forget to tell people the stipulation: “This sounds like a “yes” to me right now, but let’s revisit this when the time gets closer.”

In December alone – the month of my Pop’s and Hub’s birthday, along with the holiday’s – we ate out constantly.

Not something we do consistently, but I gave myself grace to not cook and get through this hectic month as sane as possible.

   

So, perhaps, if you blow at boundaries, or want to get more aligned with how you show up in the world and where you place your energy – don’t wait for grief to give you the permission – do it now, yo!

And get to flexin’ those boundary muscles.

 

Love + Big-Ass Boundary Grief Lessons,

Keli

  

Psst…Grief-life is a giant mirror for your friendships and relationships in life. It’s a brutal process to watch someone grieve. It’s also a beautiful process to be in the thick of it with them.

 

Also, if you don’t have a robe (it’s like you’re constantly wearing a warm hug), get yo’ass to a Target ASAP. I basically live in this wardrobe now. 

10 Years

When we met, we both had 3 things in common —  

  1. We didn’t believe in the construct of marriage
  2. We never wanted kids
  3. And our love language was freedom

 

Cut-to 8 months later – there we were standing at the alter exchanging vows and dreaming of what our future kid would look like.

 

Life is bat-shit crazy like that.

 

I never imagined our marriage would take us to so many places 10-years later.

 

Places that made us work so fucking hard for our relationship.

Places that made us laugh uncontrollably.

Places that questioned our beliefs in who we were.

Places that were so sweet we could barely take in the goodness that surrounded us.

 

Places that we look back on now with gratitude that we survived that leg of the marriage trip.

 

10 years of marriage.

That was never the dream I had for my life.

I never wanted marriage or kids.

I wanted to be a famous actress and talk show host and travel the world.

And as much as I loved the men and amazing relationships I had with them in my life, I always ended up loving myself more and rarely budged on compromise.

 

Call it timing. Call it maturity. Call it whatever you want.

In this partnership…I softened; I chose to work through my shit.

And I’ve had to keep making that choice over and over and over again.

Because it is a choice and partnerships take hella work sometimes.

 

Sweet-Cheeks,

I love you. There’s no word that can accurately describe my gratitude for your handsome ass.

You’re brave + tender; courageous + kind; annoying + hilarious.

I love how your brain overthinks most things in life + how I can’t follow most of your thoughts because the words are just too big and oftentimes, I feel like I live with the reincarnate soul of Nikola Tesla.

I love that you put up with me and all of my wild ideas and the non-conventional adventures I want to go on in life.

I love how much you love our daughter and how you lose your breath just thinking about her sometimes.

I love that you’ve never tried to dim my light; you’ve only helped me illuminate it – especially in times when I couldn’t reach my own on switch.

 

And thank you for choosing growth over comfort every damn day of our life together.  

 

Cheers to 10, baby 😘

 

Order the groceries

My best 80’s hair has a hot grief tip for ya…

Order your damn groceries 👊🏽

After The Vic went tits up (that was his way of expressing when someone died 😂), I found myself EXTREMELY overwhelmed, especially at the “little” things.

I literally felt like I was going to break down and crawl into a fetal position at the self check-out in Target because even THAT was too much for me.

(Turns out — thanks to my awesome grief therapist — grief is not only processed emotionally, it’s processed physically as well.)

The next thing I knew, I found myself scouring Amazon for house items I’d usually buy when I was out and about (pre-grief) and spending hours reading ingredients, finding new food items and perfecting my online Thrive Market order.

My brain could handle that.
My emotions could handle that.
Therefore, I wasn’t breaking down in the middle of Vitamin Cottage anymore (well, for now).

Mental health matters, y’all, especially when you’re in a season of grief or overwhelm.

Take care of you. Do the easy thing. Order the fucking groceries.

Control

It was a Monday; I buried dad in his light blue coffin – with full military honors – two weeks prior.

I thought I was ready to do life.


As I was driving my daughter to school, I pressed the gas pedal to go on a green light and the next thing I knew I was screaming, “What the fuuuuuuuuck?!” at the top of my lungs as my daughter and I spun in an intersection like we were on the Tilt-A-Whirl ride at the State Fair.

I officially became a person who was hit by another person running a red light.

(My daughter and I were pretty much ok – thank you, God, star particles and whatever holds this galaxy together!)
 


What started out as pure gratitude for being alive from that accident, turned to some sort of bitterness because I found my grieving process derailed.

The headache and poor communication from an insurance company.
The in-between of car repairs.
And don’t get me started on the rental car situation.
 


I wondered though – why was I bitter? Shouldn’t I be over-the-moon to be alive and not mangled or completely broken?

I was bitter as hell because I wasn’t in control.

I was ready to grieve, damnit, and then I get in an accident.

That wasn’t in my plans.
That. Wasn’t. In. MY. Plans. 
Do you hear that? 
 


I’ve been the controlling type my whole life.
Even as I say that about myself, I want to delete it.


As long as I can recall I tried to have a constant grip on anything I could regulate in life.
 
Don’t worry, though, I know it stems from my dysfunctional childhood where I had ZERO control (#WorkingThroughIt).
 


It’s an odd dichotomy though – the “big” stuff (death, marriage, kids, friendships, people stuff) I’m super hands-off and all, “I can’t control people!”.
 
The day-to-day stuff, whoa, mama can’t help herself! I try to be 10 steps ahead at all times when it comes to my house, car, cleaning, planning, travel, etc.

Details give me pleasure.
 


And that can actually be helpful in a lot of ways. Take my career and business in digital marketing – that’s literally my business: Digital Details. People pay me to figure out and execute their business’s digital details. And I love every second of it.
 
On the other hand, obsessing over how my husband doesn’t place the dish towel the proper way in the kitchen, or fold the towels a certain way or being thrown off by a last-minute schedule change – not helpful.  
 
Not helpful at all.
 


I don’t know why it took my father’s death and a dude to slam my car in an intersection to wake me up to the fact that trying to figure out every detail in life blows.


It’s exhausting and when you’re in the throes of grief – controlling anything beyond your own mental health is utterly draining.
 


I’m not saying I’m “cured” from trying to control the details, but I’m more aware.

More aware that control is an illusion and I can spot a spin-out a mile ahead now.

More aware that it actually feels better – not worse – to loosen the grip in life.

More aware that kitchen towels don’t care how they’re folded, so neither should I.

And more aware that tending to my mental health and grief is the first and only step I need to be ahead of.
 


Love + Tilt-A-Whirl Lessons,
Keli

 

 

PS — No, I will not give up my obsession with packing light and rolling my clothes to save space. Take the oddly folded towels, Control — but you will not take my packing superpower!