What It Means to Travel Through Grief

By: Amanda Black (Guest Blogger)

It’s been two and half months since I left home after my mom died. I spent all of this time on a little island called Roatan off of the coast of Honduras. I’ve strolled down some of the the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen, danced my heart out to bad karaoke, finished rescue diver and divemaster courses, dove almost seventy times, and got very tan.

In between all of these lovely times though have been some very dark moments.

Leaving my parents house meant leaving everything familiar and comforting – my dad, my dogs, my comfy bed, food my stomach can handle, and my mom’s presence everywhere.

Moving and starting over is not a concept I am unfamiliar with. As a kid we moved every couple years, as an adult I have changed cities and even countries more than a few times. Change is exciting to me, and honestly a little addicting.

Coming to Roatan has been different. It’s different because I am dealing with the biggest loss of my life. I also mourn both of my grandmas who died around the same time and the life in Israel I spend years building and just days leaving behind. I feel the loss of the feminine energy in my life, I struggle to adjust to the changes in my family dynamics, and sometimes feel desperate to find my purpose.

The past two and a half months in Roatan have been full of great highs and a few very low moments. At my best I was diving and learning, talking about spirituality with a soulful new friend, watching the sunset with a monkey la la in my hand, cuddling with a sloth, diving with dozens of sharks, bonding on the beach with another motherless daughter, cruising the island with fellow divers, eating fresh local food, enjoying unexpected inspiring, interesting conversations, and sun bathing next to a turquoise ocean.

The low points have involved lots of tears, cursing at my mom for leaving us, taking my anger out on a bottle of beer on the sidewalk, impatience with those around me, social awkwardness because small talk is hard when you are grieving, and once even holding a knife to my wrist wondering if I wanted to cut myself just to feel something other than grief (I didn’t).

The truth is I probably wasn’t ready for this. Doing my divemaster meant responsibility when I really craved freedom, and moving to Honduras meant instability and challenges when I could have used more ease. It meant being lonely with dozens of people around me when I could have used some compassion.

But I did it. I wanted to feel how big this world is, to meet people with stories to tell, to relish in new cultures and experiences, and to give myself the space to heal. I got all of this and so much more.

I learned that I expect too much from people’s characters and if they don’t meet my expectations, it doesn’t mean they are bad people. I discovered that the happiest feeling in the world is being fully present in a beautiful place. I realized that I deserve more kindness and patience from myself and that it is a necessary on the path to healing. I learned again that at its best judging someone makes you look like a jerk, and at its worst it prevents you from getting to know pretty great people. I realized that the grief, sadness, loneliness, and depression are as beautiful as joy and just as important.

I was reminded that I have so much to learn. Life is short, just a blink of an eye to the universe. But it is also long. It allows for change and growth and countless beautiful, awe-inspiring moments.

I learned that even without my mama, the love of my life, my best friend, and a big chunk of my heart, this life is full of beauty. I learned that grace, gratitude, presence, and love exist everywhere, but the only way to find them is to begin inside yourself. It’s a journey that is not always easy and has no finish line but is worth every second.

Thank you, Roatan, for being there for me during some of the most meaningful months of my life.

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