Six months after Elias’s death, Gilbert posted on her Instagram a heart-wrenching essay about grief.
Gilbert shared a picture of her and Elias during their commitment ceremony, which was taken one year ago, on June 6, 2017. In front of a small group of friends, Gilbert and Elias “bound [their] hearts together forever.”
Gilbert wrote, “What does ‘forever’ mean when one of the lovers has terminal cancer? That’s simple: It means FOREVER.”
She was my love, my heart, my best friend, my teacher, my rebel, my angel, my protector, my challenger, my partner, my muse, my wizard, my surprise, my gift, my comet, my liberator, my rock star, my completely impossible non-cooperator, my otherworldly visitor, my spiritual portal, and my baby. I loved you so much, Rayya. Thank you for letting me walk with you right to the edge of the river. It has been the greatest honor of my life. I would tell you to rest in peace, but I know that you always found peace boring. May you rest in excitement. I will always love you.
A post shared by Elizabeth Gilbert (@elizabeth_gilbert_writer) on Jan 4, 2018 at 6:57pm PST
It is a universal truth that when you lose someone you love dearly, others will reach out in hopes that you’re doing well.
Gilbert comments on this beautifully, “People keep asking me how I’m doing, and I’m not always sure how to answer that. It depends on the day. It depends on the minute. Right this moment, I’m OK. Yesterday, not so good. Tomorrow, we’ll see.”
Grief, as she points out, comes and goes on its own. It will show up whenever it wants and do to you what it wants — it doesn’t pay attention to your own personal plans. She explains, “Grief has a lot in common with Love.”
Ultimately, the only way to handle grief is to be willing to accept it. “How do you survive the tsunami of Grief? By being willing to experience it, without resistance.”
Read her entire post below.
Dear Ones: This picture of me and Rayya was taken one year ago today, on the morning of our commitment ceremony — a day on which we bound our hearts to each other forever, in front of a small circle of friends. What does “forever” mean, when one of the lovers has terminal cancer? That’s simple: It means FOREVER. Six months ago this week, Rayya died. People keep asking me how I’m doing, and I’m not always sure how to answer that. It depends on the day. It depends on the minute. Right this moment, I’m OK. Yesterday, not so good. Tomorrow, we’ll see. Here is what I have learned about Grief, though. I have learned that Grief is a force of energy that cannot be controlled or predicted. It comes and goes on its own schedule. Grief does not obey your plans, or your wishes. Grief will do whatever it wants to you, whenever it wants to. In that regard, Grief has a lot in common with Love. The only way that I can “handle” Grief, then, is the same way that I “handle” Love — by not “handling” it. By bowing down before its power, in complete humility. When Grief comes to visit me, it’s like being visited by a tsunami. I am given just enough warning to say, “Oh my god, this is happening RIGHT NOW,” and then I drop to the floor on my knees and let it rock me. How do you survive the tsunami of Grief? By being willing to experience it, without resistance. The conversation of Grief, then, is one of prayer-and-response. Grief says to me: “You will never love anyone the way you loved Rayya.” And I reply: “I am willing for that to be true.” Grief says: “She’s gone, and she’s never coming back.” I reply: “I am willing for that to be true.” Grief says: “You will never hear that laugh again.” I say: “I am willing.” Grief says, “You will never smell her skin again.” I get down on the floor on my fucking knees, and — and through my sheets of tears — I say, “I AM WILLING.” This is the job of the living — to be willing to bow down before EVERYTHING that is bigger than you. And nearly everything in this world is bigger than you. I don’t know where Rayya is now. It’s not mine to know. I only know that I will love her forever. And that I am willing. Onward.❤️
A post shared by Elizabeth Gilbert (@elizabeth_gilbert_writer) on Jun 6, 2018 at 7:27am PDT
Two months after separating from her husband, who she met and wrote about in her memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Gilbert shared on Facebook that she found love with her best friend of 15 years, Elias.
Elias was diagnosed with pancreatic and liver cancer in spring of 2016.
Gilbert finishes her post with, “I don’t know where Rayya is now. It’s not mine to know. I only know that I will love her forever. And that I am willing.”