Grief. It's a loaded word. On the job, I have witnessed its many forms. Sometimes grief is the blood-curdling wail of a son who just lost his mother, or grief can be that blank thousand-yard stare of shock. I have seen people wander around in circles at calls, I have seen people curse, break things or just sit down and cry. And I feel helpless that there is nothing I can do to alleviate their pain except to offer my hand to hold, hand over a tissue, or give them a gentle nod of understanding, even though I will never completely understand what they are going through, simply because I am not them.
But in a way, I do know because I have been grieving the loss of something that I once so deeply believed in and now my world has gone upside down that there are moments I am not sure of anything, but then again this uncertainty has grounded me in living my life millisecond by millisecond, trusting and embracing whatever the future might hold for me.
I wish I could go into detail but the feelings are too sharp, too muddled and raw to explain. But in my grief, there is that ray of hopefulness that my life can only move forward in a positive way like it always has. Since my childhood, my father has told me I was born under a lucky star and I believe this. I do not believe in God, but I know there is a greater power and His/It/Her energy bathes me with a calming force.
I think the key to grief is to not fight it. To accept it for what it is and what it has to teach you, to feel it, bathe in it. And to let it give you strength. I cried for the first time in a decade in front of one of my crewmates. Not a huge cry, but the two tears that rolled down my face were enough to rattle me and my crewmate just a little bit but like every great firefighter, my colleague gave me that look of knowing and understanding. And in that look he gave me, I knew I had it in me to handle whatever comes my way.
So as I lie awake here tossing and turning mere hours before I start my next shift, I am saying a silent prayer of thanks to my crew, my beautiful children, and to all the people I have the privilege of helping every time the alarm sounds. In grief, there is that huge possibility of joy, and this is what I hold onto. xo