23 Jul 2013
There are a lot of philosophies of thought around grief.
We resolve our grief. We find closure. We do grief work. Grief is a lifelong process. Grief is temporary. We move through grief. Grief is to be avoided. Grief is to be embraced.
The more I work with people who grieve and the more I explore my own experiences with loss the more and more I believe that it’s not about any of that. It’s not really even about the grief.
It’s all about the love.
When we lose someone or something that we love, our relationship with that person or thing changes. We still love them, we still love the idea of what was or what we had or the activity we used to do. The love doesn’t change. Our relationship changes and in that, the HOW of the way we love them changes.
Recently, as the anniversary of my daughter’s birthday is approaching this Saturday, I’ve been looking at my relationship with her and my beliefs about grief. And I’m realizing that it’s not about finding closure or resolving grief or working my way through it. It’s not about the grief at all.
Yes, there is sadness. There is a profound sense of missing her. There is even still the occasional moment of anger. But what matters to me is the love. I still get to love her. I still get to be her mother. I just also get to learn a different ways to love and mother her without her being physically present in my world.
Grief will ebb and flow, come and go. But Love, Love lives. It changes. It morphs. It expands and transforms. But it always lives.
And so there is love…
Today I heard your laughter on the wind
And the running of your feet in the rain
For a moment, the ghost of a scent –
Sweet scent of little girl bottled just for me
Close my eyes and there you are
Just the way I pictured you would be –
Beautiful and bright in every way.
I took a walk on the river side
Along the path, I swear, I felt your hand hold mine
And your whisper,
Look, Mommy, see how the sun sparkles
Like diamonds shining just for us
I whispered back of rainbows and daisies
And of love –
Love that never dies or fades away
I felt you spin and twirl beside me
Youthful girl I can only imagine you would be
Gentle brush of a kiss
And a giggle fading on the breeze
Happy Birthday, beautiful.
You are everything I dreamed you’d be.
4 of those other females are pregnant. They are all roughly 20 – 24 weeks along at this point.
97% of the time I am absolutely happy and thrilled for them. I love hearing about how they’re doing, whether it’s a boy or girl, what names they are thinking of, watching the baby bumps growing and all that fun stuff.
The other 3%? Well, there is where I get sad and angry and a little jealous.
See, about 9 years ago, my daughter, Grace was born still at 21 weeks. And right about now, these beautiful women’s babies are passing 21 weeks healthy and growing and vibrant.
I didn’t put the connection together right away, between my random extreme moodiness in the office, these pregnancies, and Grace. I had a day last week where I was just feeling all out of sorts and, to be frank, was in a pisser of a mood.
I kept wavering between
a) Wanting everyone to leave me the hell alone (not an ideal feeling when you’re a therapist and also work within a team) and
b) Throwing a sort of mental temper tantrum (complete with metaphorical stomping of feet) wanting someone to magically notice something was up
Well, since by the end of the day neither one of these things had happened, I pulled myself out of my sulking long enough to ask myself,
“What is it that I want someone to give to me or do for me by noticing my out-of-sorts-ness?
My answer was simple.
I wanted to feel loved and cared for and nurtured.
At that point, I still didn’t recognize what was driving the out-of-sorts moodiness, sadness, and spurts of anger. I just knew I felt crappy and wanted to be loved.
I could have reached out to any number of friends and did I considered calling several of them. However, I also recognized that, sometimes, as important as it is to have people in our lives who support us and love us, it’s equally or even more important to be able to support and love ourselves.
So, I went home. I put on my comfy clothes, lit my favorite vanilla scented candles, started a fire in the woodstove, and made myself a good meal. I put in a DVD of one of my favorite funny shows and pulled out my journal.
Even though I had a dozen (or more) things I felt I should be doing for various work activities and responsibilities, I chose to take care of me. Even before I made the connection and realized what was coming up was a little unexpected grief, I made the choice to love myself.
And through loving myself, I was able to move through the sadness and anger and jealousy, and back into the 97% of happiness and excitement for my colleagues. I’m able to stay connected to that happiness for them even when moments of sadness have come up for me since that day.
It fascinates me how the process of grief shifts, changes, and evolves over time – through awareness, with various losses, and through our own growth. It shows up in a million different ways, in a million different degrees and levels.
Yet, the answer is always the same.
Love each other. Love ourselves. Love our way through it all.