Thoughts on How to Grieve

Friends,

Can we talk?

I’ve gotten some criticism recently, that I’m grieving improperly. That I may be sharing (or exploiting) my separation & divorce to gain some social media momentum.

This criticism also said that grief is a quiet journey, not to be made public.

I would like to publicly respond to this, as I have *SOME THOUGHTS*.

First, I would like to gently but firmly push back on *all* of that criticism.

Gosh, friends. Grief is such a personal journey, walked out step by step. I think it can be as loud, quiet, public or private as YOU choose it to be. But YOU get to choose. No one should tell you how to grieve. And absolutely no one should shame you for the way you are grieving. Shame & grief are a lethal combo.

If it’s not clear on my social media (& my book), let me be clear: I feel called to share my heart. I have felt this since I was little, but I never had the tools, awareness or resources to do so then.

I share my heart for one reason alone: to connect with others. To remind others they are not alone on this journey of life. I believe when we connect with each other in the pain, there can be healing. Feeling less alone, feeling heard, feeling *seen* – these can be life saving things.

I think sometimes we talk about hard things when they are over. And there is value and wisdom in that. But I also think there’s immense value in talking about hard things *as* we go through them.

Walking towards (queer) divorce has taught me many things: about myself, about grief, about parenting, about friendships, about my faith, about rebuilding my life. I’m committed to talking about it all respectfully, with kindness and honesty. I think there’s a way to talk about it without exploitation.

There will always be criticisms when you put your heart out there. There will always be people who don’t like what you choose to say, or do. Oof, and that’s hard. It hurts.

But listen: put your hand on your heart, and take a deep breath. Remind yourself of your goodness. If what you’re doing feels authentic and true, then keep on walking. That’s what I’m going to do.

Sending courage and love to you, my friends.

My word for 2023

2022 was one of the hardest years of my life. 

Choosing to end my marriage and move towards divorce was an excruciating decision. The pain that followed was deep and vast. There were days I laid on my office floor and cried. Days where the pain & grief felt almost too much to bear. 

But I have intense gratefulness for 2022, because it was also one of profound personal growth. I fully listened to my Voice and to my Body, and She’s leading the way now. 

Together, Her and I landed on my word for 2023: LIBERATION. 

I don’t exactly know how to explain or express it, but my Voice, my Knowing – they are feeling more liberated each day. Not that there isn’t still pain and grief – but liberation is there, growing up through the cracks.

At first, even thinking of taking a step was paralyzing. But then I did… I took a step. And then another, and another. I’m so proud of each step I have taken so far. In 2023, I believe we’re going to learn to run.

I’m excited to see where my Knowing and I will go. What we will experience. In what new ways will we grow & grieve & feel.

Are there ways you can liberate yourself from anything in your own life, big or small? I encourage you to sit with that.

Have you thought of a word that might encapsulate and motivate you through 2023? I’d love to hear yours!

I’m believing for beautiful, bold & joyful things to come in 2023 – for you and for me. Sending love to you, my friends. 

A blessing for when everything hurts at Christmas.

I’ve been taking lots of social media breaks for my self care lately. I think we all crave genuine connection, and sometimes social media only makes us feel isolated, especially during difficult times.

This blessing has been on my heart to share for a little while. I know Christmas is hard for so many people, for so many reasons. It’s been hard for me too, this year.

Please, know you are loved and you are not alone. If you need someone to talk to, reach out to someone who cares. Or send me an email, I’ll gladly chat with you.

Sending love, hope and peace to you in this holiday season, my friends.

Art by me, posted on my art instagram account @staceychomiakart

Full text:

A blessing for when everything hurts at Christmas.

Oh, the fresh grief that comes with unwrapping old ornaments that mark now painful memories. I hope you can be tender with it.

May you find the soft shelter of friendship, as you feel the powerful sting of holiday traditions changing, evolving… ending.

I hope you have the strength to hold both the sadness & the joy of hearing your favorite Christmas songs. May your heart find new ways to dance to them.

May you see a glimmer of hope in a new tradition, like the flickering of a flame before it’s extinguished. I hope the warmth of that light stays and glows inside of you.

When things are too hard, or too much, may you sink deep within yourself and remember that you are your own solid base. You can return to yourself at any time.

When you least expect grief to hit you – in the mall, watching your favourite holiday movie, not getting that invite this year… May you validate the pain & breathe through it.

I hope you pay attention to all the small things, for you might find new surprises or new smiles where you least expect them. When that happens, pause, and breathe in the warmth.

I hope you take a minute to sit in the darkness with the Christmas tree lights softly dancing around the room. Even in the presence of loss or loneliness, may you feel a gentleness that says: repeat the sounding joy.

My friends, may you remember most of all: this season is about belief. I hope you always make the choice amid the hard, amid the change, amid the pain – to believe. Believe in hope. Believe in healing. Believe in you.

Grieve Forward.

There’s no one way to grieve. 

There’s no one way to walk through a separation or divorce.

I’ve had to feel my way through this fog as best I can, not really knowing what I’m doing. But I’m trying to listen… listen hard. Because there are deep soul things to learn, buried in this fog of grief.

A little while ago, I took off my wedding ring. My body and heart gently told me, it was time. 

I stood alone in my bathroom and slipped it off. I stared at my bare finger almost incredulously, the indent of the ring still there. I was painfully aware I hadn’t removed it since my wedding day in 2011. 

Isn’t it strange how the same object can represent extreme joy, and then with time, intense heartache? 

Much of me wanted to hide the ring in a drawer, distract myself, and run from the tsunami of grief headed my way. 

But I didn’t. 

I stood my ground. 

I clutched the ring tightly in the palm of my hand, I closed my eyes, and I felt. I let the wave of grief crash over me. A flood of memories cascaded from the feeling of this little circle in my hand. Years of love and joy and life and…well, all of it.

Many of those beautiful memories had been coated in a layer of sadness. Which part do I grieve first? Where do I even begin?

I clutched the ring tighter, and put my other hand on my heart. “It’s okay, I’m here,” I reminded myself. I let the tears flow, and I didn’t ask for explanation or specifics. I gave myself permission and space to feel, without question. (A practice I am learning, thanks Therapy!) 

I thanked the ring in my best Marie Kondo way, because the truth is – so much of what it represented to me was joy and growth and beauty. That matters. That will always matter.

I think that’s what makes the grief so much bigger and complex. It’s a reflection of love and life. As I stood there crying over this inanimate object, I realized something. 

We often put large parts of our identities in these small objects, and when they’re gone, we find ourselves disoriented. My heart and mind were scrambling for direction, like when you unexpectedly tip your canoe. 

The ring is off, and I’m no longer a wife. Massive life changes like this are uncomfortable and heartbreaking and just so… raw. Even though this is the right decision for me…it hurts deeply. It makes sense wanting to avoid feeling it.

My friends, if I have learned anything it’s that we must feel. We must grieve

We must grieve forward.

This term came to me the other day. For me, grieving forward has meant honouring whatever comes up, whenever it comes up. A memory, an emotion, a question… Holding it gently and with care, feeling it, and letting it go. Without judgement.

And then maybe… grieving forward can translate into healing forward

Saying goodbye to a relationship, an old version of yourself, the stability your previous life offered….it’s a lot. It’s just a LOT. But in this life sometimes it’s necessary for growth. We have to acknowledge and feel the ending of something, in order to move into new things. 

“You cannot hold onto the old, while declaring you want something new.

The old will always defy the new.

The old will always deny the new.

The old will always decry the new.

There is only ONE way to bring in the new: YOU MUST MAKE ROOM FOR IT.”

Richard Rohr

Grieve forward what you need to, even in the smallest of ways. Together I believe we will feel our way through.

Much love to you, my friends. 

The Season for Grief

If ever there was a “right” season to grieve and feel immense change in your life – Fall is the perfect one. 🍁🍂

Whether I’m out on my bike, or walking with a friend, the profound beauty of this season speaks to me.

“Look at our colours!” The leaves exclaim.

”Change can be beautiful. And it’s never forever, dear One. So hold on. Absorb the beauty, breathe out Hard. Notice and learn about what is in each day, each emotion, each decision…”

As I watch leaves flutter to the ground, they remind me:

“Be gentle with yourself, and let what needs to fall to the ground, fall. Let it disintegrate and break down into new soil. This will fertilize your dreams in the next season.” 

Yeah, sometimes leaves talk to me. 😉 Nature speaks so much truth when we’re open to listening. 🙏❤️‍🩹🍂

Beauty and peace to you, my friends.

Still Stace, one year later!

“Still Stace” published one year ago today, Oct 19th, 2021.

Happy Book Birthday, to you!  

What a year.

I have to say, the biggest surprise for me this year has been what many Beloved Queer Folx want to talk about. After reading my book, we’ve chatted on Zoom, on walks, on emails about this newfound hope they have to revisit their faith. 

Many begin the conversation quietly and cautiously, as if the words themselves will bite. I don’t think a lot of people realize – SO MANY Queer Folx want to engage with their faith, but it’s often so hard to find a Safe Space to do it. 

What a distinct honour for me, to walk alongside them, and gently fan the flames of their curiosity. I don’t have answers, but OH how I love to talk about the Wonder and Expansiveness of life. 

I’ve loved and cherished getting all your messages. Please know I will never take for granted being a Protector of Your Story. 

My hope and prayer was that my book would help one person. I have an ongoing note with saved messages, reminding me it’s helped so many more than one. I’m tremendously grateful.

While it feels like yesterday, one year also feels like a lifetime ago. So much for me has changed, on the inside and the outside. My story is so different today than how my book ended in 2011. But then, that makes sense. We’re all endlessly changing, aren’t we? If we’re breathing, we’re changing.

Dear Younger Gay Stace, 

I’m proud we told the truth then, and I’m proud we’re telling the truth now. I’m proud of our courage, and the way we have fought to be true to our Voice, no matter what.  Keep going, Dear Queer One. 

If you read and liked my book, I’d love you to leave a review somewhere, so others can find it. (Amazon, Goodreads, and the like!)

My friends, keep telling your stories. I promise I’ll keep telling mine.

Much love,

Stace 

My Tough Truth

“Owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do.”

Brene Brown

My Dear Friends, it’s National Coming Out Day. I’ve been wanting to share some tough truth with you for a while. Today seems to be a fitting day to do it. Will you sit with me in this place, with love and openness?

Tams and I are getting a divorce.

I know for many of you, this may feel out of nowhere. But social media paints the brightest of pictures, not always the most accurate ones. That being said – I have always tried my best to tell the truth about life and relationships.

Much like my sexuality, this is a message deep inside of me that I tried to bury & suffocate. I didn’t want to know this truth: that this relationship was over for me. But I learned this time around not to fight myself for so many years. If something is True for me, it’s just True.

This decision has been the hardest thing I have done in my life up until now. But after much prayer, time & counsel, I know it is the right one for me.

However – there is a profound amount of pain in admitting this truth. Profound. I can’t properly explain the lonely struggle I have felt.  

I have put an insurmountable amount of pressure on myself to make this work. I just wanted it to so badly. And then as time went on – I wanted to want to. 

Here’s the thing: I wanted the ending of my book to be true forever. I wanted my own queer fairy tale to withstand the test of time. I know a lot of you did, too. But my beautiful friends, can we promise that to each other? To never change? I don’t think we can, or should. It’s not possible. Can we instead just promise to tell the truth when we do change?

In “Still Stace”, my story wasn’t about finding love and living happily ever after. My story was about finding myself. My story was about choosing to live authentically to my Voice. 

So here I am again, at 42, having to do that. As a close friend said to me, this is like coming out again. And today, it does feel very much the same. Like coming out, I will disappoint and lose people over this decision. But that’s okay, because just like before, I know I’m living my Truth. And that’s enough for me.

Despite knowing this is the right road for me, my heart is broken in a hundred different ways. I desperately didn’t want to abandon the idea of this beautiful family we worked so long and hard to build. I have dug my heels in and white knuckled my way through for a while now. 

My time in England was a desperate attempt to get some physical space to hear my Voice. Like many queer people of faith, I often struggle to hear my Voice clearly. There’s always so much shame and doubt and fear mixed in. And I have learned to stifle my Voice when people I love may get hurt. My Voice in regards to my marriage was buried and muffled for a while. And honestly, I did a lot of the muffling myself.

The truth is this: I felt called to get clarity. I felt England would bring it, come what may. I finally had some actual time alone, far away from my life. I asked God in my fear for clarity, for peace. I asked my Voice what She had to say.

And I got clear, loud answers. 

I did not like the answers I got, so I kept asking. But again & again throughout those three weeks, God in Her infinite wisdom and kindness gently kept confirming it. “It’s okay Stace,” She said. “This is just your truth, and it’s okay to fully see it now. I’m here & I will love you through this.” My sweet Voice kept agreeing through tears. It brought deep grief – but also, finally, some release and freedom. 

As Glennon Doyle said, I just couldn’t keep abandoning myself to make something work. Even if the something is beautiful. Because the reality is, if I have to abandon any part of me to fit, it’s no longer the beautiful thing it was meant to be. 

There is so much more to say about this, but I want to honor & protect all involved as we continue to walk this extremely difficult season. As time unfolds and clarifies things, I will share when appropriate. There are many lessons I’m learning, that only unrelenting grief can teach you. And truthfully, there aren’t enough resources for queer people (& families) going through separation and divorce – so my friends, I’m taking notes.

Right now, everything feels Hard. My whole life is in flames, and there’s so much upheaval everywhere I look. I have no stability. I’m grieving, I’m heartbroken, I’m mostly just surviving. But I am surviving.

If it feels like I’m letting any of you down, I’m so sorry. But the reality is this: I firmly believe I am following my Voice, and in the end, that’s the only thing I can do. Follow my authenticity wherever She leads – even if it’s into the darkest & deepest valley.

I also know… hope is on the horizon. I feel it. I know that one day at a time, this will get better. I am choosing to believe that. Truth liberates all.

Please my friends, I have one request. Please don’t reach out with questions of – did we try this or that, what happened, why, how could you… please respect our privacy during this time. If you want to send messages of love and support, I would gladly take those. My focus right now is doing my best to love myself, and all involved, through this. The road ahead is rough.

Thank you for listening to me in my Hard Place. Sending love, courage & tenderness to you in all your Hard Places. 

Stace ❤️‍🩹🌈

Hard Things.

Lately I’ve stepped away from social media, and had to put my phone away more than normal (both things that are good to do from time to time anyway!).

I’m going through some very Hard Things in my personal life right now. I’m not in a place yet to talk about it, either in desire or ability. I’m digging into my own self care, extra therapy, time with my kids, and getting out in nature. This is my time to rest, to heal, to learn. Right now, mostly, I’m just surviving. But I know this will pass, and one day, I will be thriving again.

I know how hard it is to go through deeply personal, intensely hard things in private. If that’s you today, you aren’t alone. I wrote this blessing for you – and for me. I am sitting with you in that Hard Place. We will get through this. Sending so much love, my friends.

Full text:

A blessing for those who are navigating tremendously Hard Things in private.

I see you, in your dark & lonely space. Trying to smile at life. May you not feel swallowed up and cast aside – but kept safe and protected.

May you have the courage to feel it all. The grief, the pain, the loss. Let those waves wash over you. It is the only way through. 

May you say to The Fear: not today. Today I choose to slow down, to listen for what is True inside of Me. Whatever that may be. Because whatever is True, will liberate all.

May you find the support and love you need, in those moments and on those days, when even breathing is a task too large to bear. You are loved.

May you unearth the tender grace, the wide open space, the caring compassion that you have for others – for yourself. Maybe even lean into it.

May you remember, like the changing of leaves, the setting of the sun, these deep despairs will not last forever. The sun will rise on a new day, the joy will knock you over again. 

May your tears be the water that nourishes this dry ground upon which you stand. May you believe that one day, new life, new hope, new growth will tenaciously appear through the cracks.

May you take the pressure you feel – to be perfect, to make everyone happy, to hold it all when it’s too much – release your grip on it with each exhale. In this moment, just be. You are enough.

Beautiful You, may you stop where you are, place your hand on your glorious body as it sits or stands or lays, and say – I am good. I am doing my best. I will get through this. 

STILL STACE AUDIOBOOK – out today!

Today’s the day!

STILL STACE releases into the world as an audiobook, using my own voice.

This is really scary, exciting and honestly vulnerable for me. Probably, the most vulnerable thing I have ever done – put my own voice to my own story. I hope my heart comes through, I really do.

**The publisher has given me a few giveaway codes, so if this is something you would love and money is an issue, please shoot me a DM or email, and I can share a code with you. I only have a few, so please reach out right away if so. It is available everywhere audiobooks are sold, but here are some quick links:

If anyone is interested more in the process of recording this, here is my longer post about that experience. Sending love, light and courage to you all, my friends!

Some British Paints.

Oh gosh. My time here in the UK is not over yet, but this place has changed me somehow. There are things I didn’t know I needed to see, things I didn’t know I needed to feel – or experience. Maybe it’s just that it’s my first solo trip in so long, and after the pandemic… who knows. A friend told me recently that this trip sounds like it’s been a spiritual retreat, and that’s so accurate.

I made a promise to myself before I left that I would wander the streets of London and paint whatever inspired me. I did that, and it has been incredibly inspiring – for myself. And as an artist, to feel inspired again is everything. If you have any interest in seeing my process and you have about 4 minutes, check out this video 🙂

Here are a few I have done so far. Sigh, I must have some British blood in me (I think I actually do) because part of me has felt like coming home.

ALSO the next kids book I do feels like it should be watercolour! I had so much fun doing these.

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