Recently, I posted on Facebook that I missed my daughter as her would-have-been birthday approaches. A simple statement of “I can’t believe it’s been so many years and I miss her.”
The following day, I got a note from someone who had seen my post and who was “concerned that I seemed to be consumed by my loss” and thought I “would really benefit from accepting her death and moving on.”
Initially, I thought I’d just remove this person as a friend and let it go. But it kept nagging at me. Because this ill-conceived belief that in order to “move on” and live a fulfilling life, we need to forget and never talk about our loved ones again is an opinion pushed on many of those who grieve. Not only is it misguided, it’s hurtful to those finding their way through grief.
What this person failed to notice, apparently, is that I live a rich, vibrant, fulfilling, and beautiful life. I am happy and ambitious and fiery and successful.
And, yes, I still miss my daughters. Every day.
I still look for them in all the children I see. I wonder who they might have been. Holidays have an emptiness no one could fill but them.
Sometimes I still cry for the longing to hold them. There is an ache inside, mostly just beyond my conscious awareness, that likely will never completely ease.
I light a candle on their would-have-been birthdays and eat a cupcake to remember them.
Yes, it has been what feels like far too many years. I don’t grieve as I once did and I also don’t expect this missing, this longing, this ache for them to ever fully leave. As long as I love them, I will miss them. That will be for always.
It does not, however, mean I am consumed by grief, broken by this loss, or somehow pathological in my grief because I continue to miss them.
My life is rich and full and beautiful. It is filled with the brilliance of my love for them and the shadows of their loss. Moving on does not equal forgetting.
I am living while grieving. There is nothing healthier or more beautiful than that.
That is what moving on actually looks like.