Anyone who has had a death in the family probably goes through similar cycles, moods, ups, downs, and questioning if they did enough to help. Emotions are jumbled, things hit you from left field, you find yourself crying during a soup ad on TV, or laughing hysterically at something that wasn’t remotely funny. You are up, down and sideways. I have often wanted to distance myself from my own head and walk around for a few days without it. It would be a relief, but these whirling thoughts are–you guessed it–all part of the process of grieving a life, rejoicing over that life, then letting the pain of that loss go.
Writing gives structure to my thoughts, and just as I list my “to dos” each day, I made a list of what exactly has been bugging me. I did this because I recently got so down, so negative, so lost in my own head that I wanted to just disappear. I wanted to round up all these painful and scary thoughts, push them into a burlap sack and bury them so deep that they would never bother me again.
But that isn’t possible, and it isn’t smart even if it were possible. So I made myself a list of all those whirling thoughts just so I could finally confront them. I didn’t leave a thing out, and guess what? The list wasn’t anywhere near as long as I thought it would be. We can’t expect that going through an experience like this is easy, but it is part of life, and moreover, part of what we need to learn as human beings.
I would far rather live and love fully, joyously, gladly, happily, and at some point face the loss of people I love with all my heart. That pain we feel is not permanent, nor is it meant to be. We have the comfort of knowing and remembering all those wonderful seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years of basking in all that love. And it’s worth it; so much so that we find that we can live through that pain and survive.
My amazing 91-year old dad said something the other day that was exquisitely profound and truthful. He said, “you know, if it had been me who died first, your mother would have mourned, but she would have gone on doing the things she loved. She would go to her book club, have coffee at the bookstore with her friends, play endless rounds of Scrabble, attend her PEO meetings, go out for lunch, go on trips and laugh and enjoy life. In short, she would LIVE. And that’s what I’m going to do; I’m going to LIVE.”
And that’s what I’m going to do as well.