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  • Writer's pictureStephen Hart

6 Months

My fiance Karina passed on February 13th, 2022. August 13th was 6 months since that day, and I felt called to share what life is like in this stage, not too close, but not too far from the moment my life changed forever.


It has been 6 months from the moment my deepest fear came true. From the moment I faced the reality that I would never see Karina again, hear her voice, be embraced in her arms.

I’ve been through so much in this time. So much pain and disbelief, so many tears and sleepless nights, so many days of wondering what the hell happened, so many waves of terror and anger. I was thrown in the fire and expected to survive.

When you go through something like this, in the early days, if you’re lucky, the community holds you up. Friends, family, and everyone that knows you send you love, hold space for you, and give you the slack to be a bit of a mess. But eventually, that time runs out. Life goes back to normal for everyone else, but it never really does for you. At some point, you’re on your own to face the waves of grief. People don’t stop caring for you, that’s not the case, but they can’t hold you in that tender space forever. Everyone has their own lives and their own challenges to deal with. As time goes on, it becomes very challenging to ask for help over and over.

So, at some point, it becomes sink or swim all on your own. It’s easy to sink, but I decided to swim. Swimming was hard, it took lots of effort. Swimming, for me, looked like weekly therapy, daily grieving, regular meditation, and hours and hours of spiritual study. Swimming became my priority each day because when I stopped, I began to sink.

Now, 6 months out from the worst day of my life, I’ve found myself in an interesting place.

Generally, these days, I’m feeling pretty good. I appreciate what I have in life. I am loving connecting with myself in ways I have never experienced. I am humbled that my writing and sharing have touched the lives of people around the world. I am enjoying the desire for love and connection in my life. I’m feeling in flow and optimistic again.

That is not to say I am back to normal in my life. The pockets of grief still reveal themselves, and the waves still crash on my head from time to time, but I’m navigating a process to handle it without falling apart.

Below is an example of how this shows up for me at this stage, and I hope this story provides some insight to those grieving and understanding to those who love someone who is grieving as time moves along.

The other week. I had an amazing trip to Lake Tahoe and was feeling very good. It was nice to get away, see old friends, make new ones, and enjoy the beautiful area. On the drive to the airport, I had a conversation with a friend that led to my experience with Karina and some of the details around her sickness and passing. I felt the tears come up and that all too familiar lump in my throat. As I was driving the car down a windy road, it wasn’t the best time for an emotional release, so I pushed them down.

I’ve learned through my regular work with my therapist that any moment I’m triggered to cry indicates that there is still unprocessed grief. So, as I was driving, I noted it and promised I would come back to it later.

But, I’ve noticed recently that the better I feel, the harder it is to intentionally jump into the emotional depths of grief. So, I put it off and went on with my life. The days ticked by, and slowly, I found myself sliding into a slump. I was feeling irritable. I was having trouble cultivating joy, the process I confidently wrote about the other week. I was feeling heavy and generally frustrated at the things that weren’t going well. I kept busy and continued with my schedule for the week all the same.

I recognized that it had pushed off some grieving work and I needed to dive back in and clear something out, but I was resisting. I didn’t want that pain again, but knew it was coming.

In a moment that I had time and space to grieve, I opened instagram to see a story of a friend playing and singing “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys, one of Karina and I’s favorite songs, and one that was going to be played at our wedding. That was all I needed to dive in. I sat down and let it rip. I jumped into the emotional fire as deeply as I could and felt with as much intensity as possible.

It was like holding my hand on the stove and seeing how long I could last. A familiar pain, but intense nonetheless. After about 10 minutes of this, I let the energy settle and slowly crept my way towards gratitude. It was hard at first, and I slipped back into pain a few times, but eventually, I got there.

When finally settled, I grabbed my pup Raja and walked to the park overlooking the water while listening to Jack Kornfield talk about happiness. This deepened my gratitude. When I got to the park, I sat with my pup in meditation and felt the lightness come back into me. I felt the gratitude, the appreciation, the Love, the joy fill up my body.

Raja decided when I was done meditating by insisting on playing with me. So we rolled around and laughed for a bit before walking home listing to uplifting music. On my walk home, I felt like I was floating. My shoulders were rolled back, relaxed, and my heart was shining. I felt so damn good. It was an experience so inspiring that I came back home and directly wrote this article.

I’ve moved through this process a handful of times as life oscillates from normal to unbelievable. I’m sure there will be more instances to come, but I’m comforted that I have a process in place to get back to joy, and hopefully with more ease as I get more practice.

Through this time, I’ve discovered that grief is not finite. You can’t just grieve and then move on and be done. It accumulates, it hides, and it surprises you when you least expect it. But the more I recognize it, sit with it, feel it, and release it, the more access I have to the joy, Love, and appreciation for life right on the other side.

I’ve had experiences like this a few times in the last couple of months, and each time has resulted in an amazing outcome. It’s hard to say this process is easy because it continues to burn, but the more I do it, the more I see the path and trust that there is peace on the other side of the fire. It is my lifesaver in the stormy ocean of life.


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