Real & Raw // "What Grief Taught Me" by Krystal Donovan-Festerly

For as long as I can remember I have always had a hard time looking at myself and my life without outside influence skewing my vision and my choices. Courage and confidence, that ease some people wield is something that I've always admired and craved for myself.
Yet, I could never figure out what the secret was, why some people seem to walk through this world already knowing, standing firm, while I took every single step with trepidation, always questioning, always wondering, always seeking acceptance, always waiting.
It took me over thirty years to realize, that ease, that confidence I so admired, it comes from within, and it starts with love, and acceptance of yourself, no one else can give you that, no amount of praise, no amount of anything can give you the strength to stand firm in all that is you. The fact of the matter is, that until you are true to yourself, nothing will ever fill the void. 
One day not so long ago, my life, the lives of my three children, and my husbands changed. I went to bed one day just like everyone else and woke up in the dead of night to a complete nightmare; my husband, seizing and bleeding from his head on the floor of our bedroom. I can’t describe the feeling, it’s like all the air is completely sucked from your lungs, panic fills you, quickly replaced by determination, you would do anything to stop it, to save them.
After the seizure he stopped moving, he stopped breathing, he laid there on the floor with his eyes wide open, he was blue, unresponsive, limp, seemingly gone. I screamed, as if I could will him back, it took over a minute for him to finally come back, as I counted every second with dispatch over the phone, but when he finally did, he didn’t know who I was, he looked up at our two year old daughter in complete fear as she leaned over the bed yelling “daddy needs a band aid!” 
It’s been six grueling months now since that terrible night, six months of questions and answers that we didn’t want to hear. There have been countless seizures, and more Neurosurgeons than I can remember. There has been surgeries and setbacks, and more medications than I ever thought my husband would have to take in a lifetime. There have been panic attacks, and anger, there has been therapy and rivers of tears; phrases like sudden death, and “he probably won’t make it past his thirties” will do that to you. 
For better or for worse, events like this shape you, they leave a mark, on your heart, on your soul, and on your life. Yet something else happens too, something I found completely unexpected. There’s a gift to be had within grief, even amongst the pain and the sorrow, it’s as if everything shines, even when you don’t want it to, it does, life, in all its uncertainty, shines more brilliantly than ever before. The moment you realize tomorrow isn't promised, life boils down to the essentials, things that seemed to carry so much weight and importance before simply don’t, not anymore.

Amid our lives falling apart I found the answer, I found what I had always been looking for, the confidence to live my life to the absolute fullest, no matter what. 

Life is painfully short, 

too short to live it for someone else, 

too short to spend another moment worrying about what everyone thinks, 

too short not to look up at the sky on a Tuesday, even when everything has gone wrong and not marvel at what a stunning world we live in.  

I often gaze at our girls and I wonder, “will they be ok? Will they be damaged from all this?” and then I see them, dancing in the rain and I realize that as long as I can teach them to hold onto that innate concept, they can conquer anything that this world throws their way. 

I’m thankful for grief, I’m thankful for what it’s taught me, I'm thankful for the strength it’s given me to now look out on my life and smile anyways. 


Written by Krystal Donovan-Festerly 


Leave a comment

All comments are moderated before being published