Grief, Healing & Hygge
I am going to cut to the chase, no fancy lead-in, no overly edited version of this … but my raw openness.
I wanted to write this 10 years ago but have finally found my courage.
In 2011, my life and world were rocked, completely shaken to the core. I knew people who suffered all sorts of tragedies, yet I always felt helpless. I didn’t know what to say or do and perhaps I truly couldn’t relate to them. Until I became a part of that group. The group whose life was suddenly altered forever, and not for the better. Not for the happier occasions in life, like the birth of a child, a marriage, or a new career … yet, in the blink of an eye I became a statistic. One who suddenly, with no warning, lost a child. My second daughter, Clara Rose.
The grief I endured was in ways I didn’t think were humanly possible. I was certain that I’d never smile or laugh again, perhaps never get out of bed again.
Clara should have been the beautiful sister to my first daughter, Maya (above photo), the sweet child who would chase after her older sister, dress up like a princess, twirl around like a ballerina on the stage, steal her sister’s makeup, or perhaps chase a hockey puck while whirling around on the ice. But instead, we held her in our arms for a moment in time before we had to say goodbye.
Her wisps of hair, and her baby cheeks are all but a blurred memory for me, and this is something that continues to haunt me every single day of my life.
I still carry the weight of what could have been, what should have been. I often feel the empty spot at the dinner table, in the back seat of the car as we drive to the lake, and the possible dancer who could also be on stage with her bigger sister.
One may say, it’s time to let go… but for me, letting go is not an option. I didn’t have her in my arms long enough and holding on to her in any capacity I know allows me to feel her, to love her, and to honour her.
Even though I continue to hold on to her in my heart, I found a way to create peace with her. Peace with the fact that although my life shattered, I was forced to look at life and reevaluate everything; having sudden *clarity* on what was truly important in life.
The beautiful family that I did (and do) have.
Working my way through the years of intense grief has not been easy, PTSD isn’t something that you can just say goodbye to and close the door to it (trust me, I wish it were that easy). But I was (and am) lucky to have solace in my husband, daughter, my entire family and my closest friends. I did (and still do) discovered new passions, like urban homesteading (aka creating an enormous edible garden), camping, cooking, forest bathing, a bit of horseback riding, and of course a life with HYGGE.
I didn’t know much about hygge, but after many years of the proverbial “soul searching”, it was something that landed in my inbox, and I instantly knew that I was on to something big. Something that gave me a true sense of clarity, connection, and comfort. Finally, a word, a concept, and a whole lifestyle that described all the ways I went about my healing with grief. And it wasn’t just the comfort of having a cozy blanket or a flickering wood wick candle (although I love both), but more in the comfort of knowing that “I will be ok, no, I AM ok. I have what I need, who I need … the world around me IS good”.
For me, hygge is a life with purpose and meaning, and doing it with those few you love the most. It’s letting go of what and who no longer serves you. It’s the simplest and tiniest of moments, the ones that make me feel “at home”. It’s a state of mind, and it’s a reminder that I need to slow down, retreat inward, and give myself the time to reconnect with ME.
I know, it’s not about what I have or what I don’t have… do I wish I had Clara here instead of writing this? 1001%. But that isn’t the case, so I have learned to relish in the moments like the heartfelt cuddles from loved ones (and Madden, my fur baby) to the quiet calm in the morning with my hot coffee and the flicker of a candle, to the joy I find when hiking in nature and soaking up the beauty of it all.
Being able to define these moments through Hygge, and becoming more mindful to the simplicity of them has made me a more positive and lighter person, a change that my friends and family were able to see in me. I realized that purposefully creating hygge moments, was exactly what I was looking for, my way to permanently work through the grief I was feeling from losing Clara.
It was then I started Hygge Canada and Hygge in a Box, with my sister Lisa. We wanted to share its true specialness with the world. through wellness boxes, workshops, retreats and wellness coaching.
Grief is exhausting and some days it can feel like a full-time job but finding daily moments to say "Jill, it’s hygge time" is what keeps me going. One hygge moment at a time.