I know a thing or two about grief. More often than not as of late, it’s been an exasperating, Charlie-Brown-sigh of, “Good grief”! This followed of course by in-my-own-mind muttering and long hot baths serenaded by my favourite crooners with copious amounts of wine. Admittedly, extreme levels of got-her-Ire-up call for tea as the hot Irish blood runs quick through these old veins.
Grief often makes people think of death, dying and final good-byes, but the reality is different the majority of the time. Loss without a death is more common and treated with less respect. Often it’s not recognized at all.
Sometimes it’s a loss of a relationship, and all of the hopes and dreams you had of your future together; partner, child, or career. Hmm…let that loll in your wee little mind for a while. It can be loss of all the wonderful things your body used to do but will no longer let you, or a lifestyle that no longer meets your needs, perhaps it’s even an aspect of your personality that got lost somewhere in adult-responsibility-land. Only you will know for sure.
When I followed my heart and chose a vocation rather than a job, the first career transition was traumatic. I suffered a deep depression. Everything that I had planned and dreamed of seemed to die right along with my resignation letter.
When my marriage ended I was up to my neck in life; new motherhood, major losses through death and estrangement, and in order to get my life on track, I did not have the luxury of time to grieve any of that. I had to buck up and move on, but the need to grieve never left until I did the work of grieving years and years later.
Other relationships of all kinds have sparked and fizzled, and with each of them I learned and developed a deeper awareness of who I am, what I need and more importantly, what I am capable of giving. The wonderful thing about being human is that none of this remains constant throughout life. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something changes, and you adapt.
With each new beginning it’s natural to take a look back.
Despite the pithy sayings about never looking back, and what’s in the past is best left in the past, it’s also important to reprocess experience as we age. I used to freak out thinking of my last relationship so much that it interfered with the one that I presently was in. Check that, it affected me so much that I would not enter into anything more serious than something that ended prior to 3 a.m.
At this delicious stage of life, I’ve allowed myself the space and time to reflect, reprocess and re-dream. Sure, life has not been like I had thought it would be like. If you told my 20 year old self all of the things I would have done in this lifetime up until this age, I wouldn’t have believed it.
Sometimes things really do fall apart so that the right things can come together.
If you don’t believe that in this moment, maybe you have to be more gentle with yourself and allow whichever loss you are grieving to crawl out from underneath the weight of all of your trying. Silence and solitude can be frightening when you don’t know what’s tangled up in the dark corners of your psyche. Trust me, whatever it is won’t bite, it just needs a little more of your attention and love.