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Blown Open by Beauty: Love, Grief, and Healing in Crete

Have you ever felt so blown open by beauty that it actually hurts? Have you ever experienced a sensation of love so overwhelming that you feel like you will burst? Love is not that different from Grief in this way. It can sweep you off your feet, open you to the depths of your own soul, and connect you deeply with the people you love.

This was my experience on a recent trip I took to the magical island of Crete. I spent two weeks celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary with my husband exploring the epic landscape and beautiful culture of Crete, Greece. I have never experienced a landscape so magnificent and awe-inspiring in a country that holds you in its warmth and love.

The food, people, rugged mountains, and aqua-blue ocean - the culture itself - offered us a space for celebration and healing. This vacation was the epitome of gratitude and grief. As we drove the winding, mountain roads with sheer drop-offs straight into the ocean, my anxiety soared and challenged me to trust in life.

I felt the force of my trauma in this moment, and at the same time the courage to breathe with the discomfort and work through the memories of losing my son. However, along with my fear, I was moved by the beauty around me and felt a renewed sense of connection to myself, my marriage, my children, and most of all, to Noah. The love I felt flowing through me opened me to my grief. I felt Noah everywhere.

Stepping out of my daily life gave me a space to reflect and gain perspective on what I value, how I want to show up in the world, and the ways my loss has shaped me and inspired me to love so big that at times it hurts and feels hard to contain within my small body.

Throughout our travels, we found quiet moments together to be with our own thoughts and feelings and to talk about the different ways we have each moved through the past 15 years since we lost Noah. In my husband’s eyes, I could see the reflection of my own evolution. In moments I found myself grieving the lightness and innocence of our younger selves. In many other moments, I felt a sense of pride and empowerment for the ways we have each tended to ourselves and remained connected through our very different experiences of grieving his loss.

Men and women often grieve differently. People in general grieve differently. In losing a child, can be a very challenging aspect of grieving alongside your partner, which requires ongoing compassion, acceptance, and permission for each other’s needs.

It has been a practice to keep our hearts open in the midst of the weight of our grief. We’ve found travel to be a powerful way to shift our perspective, open ourselves to life, and to allow our grief to bring us closer to ourselves, each other, and the gratitude we feel for the blessings in our lives.

My travels have inspired me to deepen my commitment to my own healing and to support others to find their light again after loss. There is great power in the beauty of nature. There is great healing that comes from being witnessed and fully seen in your grief and your growth. For the first time in 15 years, I feel ready to begin sharing the details of Noah’s full story... It took this transformative trip to Crete to feel brave enough to do so. Not just the heart-wrenching loss that birthed the Grief Support Network, but the beautiful memories of Noah’s short life and the love, wisdom, and grace that my Noah has given to me in his passing.

If you find yourself burdened with the heaviness of your loss or feel stuck in between worlds, still clinging to the memory and often the pain of losing someone or something you love, take yourself outside to a beautiful place where you can just BE. Let the sun warm your skin. Let the breeze wash away your pain. Feel all of the feels of your grief and then let yourself rest and find comfort in the loving arms of mother earth. Let your love guide you. Give yourself permission to be fully ALIVE. This is the best way I know to honor our loved ones. To live our lives to the fullest and find peace in the moment we are in.

From my heart to yours,

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