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How I Navigated Grief By Learning to Embrace Both Love and Pain Together

“I discovered that grieving, healing, and living aren’t linear processes, but intertwined strands of our existence. Healing isn’t about forgetting; it’s about learning to live with loss, about embracing love and pain simultaneously.”

Struggled with:

Hello! Who are you?

I am DUVII. 

A figurehead embodying the resilience of a dove and the strength of the number seven, a symbol of my seven most challenging life chapters.

Why a dove, you may wonder? Throughout the Ancient Near East and Mediterranean regions, the dove was a symbol representing the mother goddess, associated with love, sexuality, and war. The number seven? It encapsulates the seven most profound stories of struggle, resilience, and strength I have lived through.

But behind this symbology, there’s a layered narrative of resilience and tenacity. As a devoted wife and mother in the fast-paced world of business, I play various roles: the nurturer at home, the cheerleader for my partner, and the innovator in the boardroom. Yet, beneath this multi-faceted persona, I grapple with an internal struggle that challenges my core.

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What is your struggle and when did it start?

The struggle I wrestle with is not characterized by an official name, but its impact is profound and widely understood. It is grief, a debilitating and all-encompassing emotion, often experienced following the loss of a loved one. 

The onset of this struggle traces back to 2013 when my world was shattered by the untimely loss of my beautiful daughter, Jumana. She was only three years old when her light was abruptly extinguished. The loss was sudden and merciless, leaving no room for preparation or acceptance, catapulting me into a state of despair and confusion.

Over time, this struggle, this grief, has evolved rather than subsided. It changed from an intense, crushing presence into a constant companion, an undercurrent in the ebb and flow of my daily life. I learned to live alongside it, acknowledging its presence, but not allowing it to consume me completely. 

How did this struggle make you feel at your worst moments?

The symptoms of my grief manifested as despair, sorrow, a heightened sense of longing, and at times, a disconcerting numbness. At my worst moments, this struggle would envelop me in a shroud of overwhelming misery. It felt like being submerged in an ocean of pain, where every attempt to surface for air seemed insurmountable.

I was on a constant quest to find pieces of Jumana in every mundane aspect of life, every laughter, every innocent smile. The emptiness was both devastating and palpable, constantly looming over my day-to-day existence.

I immersed myself in work, not as a distraction but as a misguided hope of finding Jumana somewhere in the routines of everyday life. I traveled, only to be met with the raw and unbearable truth – she was not with me.

The intensity of my struggle was, at times, visible to those around me. Yet, in my quest to maintain a semblance of normalcy, I often found myself hiding the depth of my pain.

While my outward facade portrayed a resilient woman carrying on with life, inside, I was grappling with the rawness of my grief. The smiles were often forced, the laughter a performance.

I had become proficient at the art of masking my pain, cloaking it behind the responsibilities of being a mother, a wife, and a professional. I believed that revealing the magnitude of my struggle might impose my sorrow on others, so I bore it mostly in silence and solitude.

However, there were also moments of vulnerability when the weight of my grief was too significant to bear alone. Those were the moments when the facade would crumble, revealing the devastating reality of my loss.

It was during these moments that my struggle was apparent to those closest to me. They bore witness to the profound pain that had deeply imprinted on my life, a testament to a struggle that was deeply personal, yet universally understood by those who have experienced loss.

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Was there a moment when you started to turn things around?

I was sitting alone in my immense heartache when I also found a lesson; the force of grief is merely the mirror of the love we carry. Grief is love that yearns to be given but finds no recipient. It wells up in our hearts and spills out through our eyes, fills the lumps in our throats, and resonates in the hollow parts of our chests.

This realization marked a turning point in my healing process. I recognized that my identity was not lost but transformed by my experiences.

And, importantly, my purpose was to channel this love, this grief, into something constructive for others, acting as a beacon of hope for those struggling through their dark hours. I began to help people, children in particular, drawing strength from the smiles on their faces.

It was through this transformative journey, I discovered that grieving, healing, and living aren’t linear processes, but intertwined strands of our existence. Healing isn’t about forgetting; it’s about learning to live with loss, about embracing love and pain simultaneously.

This transformation was primarily a result of my own actions, as I sought to channel my grief into expressions that were constructive and cathartic. I’d say the change was 90% the result of my actions and 10% the result of my circumstances.

My realization wasn’t a result of a particular event or change in my surroundings, but rather a deeper understanding of the nature of grief and love that stemmed from introspection.

What steps did you take to overcome your struggle?

A crucial element in my healing journey was music. Music had always been an integral part of my life, but it took on a new significance after Jumana’s passing.

It became a lifeline, a form of expression, and a connection to my daughter. I channeled my feelings into songwriting and composition, creating music that not only helped me process my grief but also reached out to others who might be experiencing similar pain.

‘Goodbye,’ one of my upcoming songs, is a testament to this journey – an ode to Jumana, to loss, to love, and to the resilience of the human spirit. It’s not just about saying goodbye to a loved one, but about finding a way to carry their memory forward with grace and strength.

I also found solace and strength in helping others. I became involved in organizations supporting bereaved families, providing both emotional and financial assistance.

I found a sense of purpose in this work, and it became a part of my healing process. Seeing their resilience, their ability to find joy in life amidst profound loss, continually inspired me.

For those in a similar situation, I would recommend a few things. First, do not hesitate to seek professional help. Therapy can provide valuable tools and strategies for coping with grief, and a therapist can offer a safe, nonjudgmental space to express and understand your feelings.

Secondly, find an outlet for your emotions – be it music, art, writing, or any activity that helps you process your feelings. Lastly, consider reaching out to others who are also grieving. Connect with support groups or organizations where you can share your experiences and draw strength from others who understand your journey. The path of grief is a long and arduous one, but you do not have to walk it alone.

Have you shared any of this with people around you in real life?

Sharing my struggle initially felt like an insurmountable task. Despite the pain I felt, I found myself hiding my grief from those around me. The people I interacted with daily – friends, colleagues, even extended family – seemed to exist on a different plane.

I felt like an alien in my own life, separated from others by the vast gulf of my grief. I feared that sharing my pain might burden them, or worse, that they might not understand.

Despite this, there were a few individuals I felt comfortable opening up to, especially my husband. We shared the loss of Jumana, and he was one of the few people who could truly understand my pain.

But even within this shared sorrow, there were limits. We grieved differently, and while we supported each other as best we could, I often found myself retreating into solitude to bear the weight of my grief.

One unexpected source of comfort came from my elderly neighbor. His empathetic presence, as someone who had also experienced a profound loss, provided a safe space for me to express my sorrow.

We shared stories of our lost loved ones, and in this shared grief, I found a sense of solace and understanding. Through him, I realized that my pain was not an isolating factor but a connection to others who had experienced a similar loss.

Sharing my struggle has been an essential part of my healing journey. I have learned that it is okay to be vulnerable, to seek support, and to express my feelings openly. It has taught me the importance of community, shared experiences, and the healing power of empathy.

I would encourage anyone going through a similar experience to reach out to those around them, whether they be friends, family, or even acquaintances. You may be surprised by the comfort and understanding you find.

If you could give a single piece of advice to someone else that struggles, what would that be?

If I could share a single piece of advice, it would be to remember that it’s okay to grieve, and it’s okay to let that grief shape you. You need to allow yourself to feel the pain, the sorrow, and the emptiness because these emotions are part of your healing journey.

It’s okay to mourn, to miss, and to long for the ones you’ve lost. Your grief is a testament to your love, and that love continues to exist even after loss.

What I wish I knew earlier, and what I want to share, is that you are not alone in your struggle. Grief, in its solitude, can make you feel isolated, but remember that there are others who understand, who empathize, and who are willing to share in your pain.

Reach out to them. Share your stories, your memories, and your feelings. There is comfort to be found in shared sorrow, and through this, you can begin to heal.

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, YouTube channels, or other resources for you?

There were two books that really helped me in my healing process-

Where can we go to learn more about you?

You can learn more about my journey and my music through my website. To stay connected on a day-to-day basis, you can follow me on my Instagram. I love sharing my process and inspirations with my followers. My music is available on Apple Music and Spotify.

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Hugo Huijer AuthorLinkedIn Logo

Founder of Tracking Happiness, with over 100 interviews and a focus on practical advice, our content extends beyond happiness tracking. Hailing from the Netherlands, I’m a skateboarding enthusiast, marathon runner, and a dedicated data junkie, tracking my happiness for over a decade.

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