After my husband suddenly and unexpectedly died, grief overwhelmed my brain. I was in a fog. Even well-known people and places seemed unfamiliar. I felt constantly confused. The future sprawled open, blank and bleak. Loss had ended our love story. My own life story, and our children’s stories, also abruptly twisted into new forms. Who was I, now, without him? How would our children and our family move forward? So many questions loomed. I had no answers.

When ambushed by grief, I’ve learned to let go. I’ve stopped searching for answers. No longer do I spin stories about what’s happened or what will happen. Instead, I try to surrender, to soften. To get through the hard moments, my go-to strategy has been to observe the present moment, with compassion, while staying in the present. Regretting episodes from the past hasn’t helped. Neither has worrying about the future. Rather, I’ve tried to focus on what is, now, today.

In this way, learning to cope with death has taught me to cope with life. Since my beloved’s passing, a global pandemic has upended the world. We’ve faced moments for optimism, such as when we received long awaited vaccines. And we’ve faced new worries, such as when new super-contagious variants were identified.

At this moment, we’re tentatively approaching a new normal. Yet, the world might shift upside down again at any moment. I know this, deep down in my bones. Change is the only constant. Our stories continue to shift. Whatever gifts the present moment offers me, I try to fully, gladly receive.