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Good Grief

Posted May 14 2012 3:58pm

Love shines upon us

As much as we like to think it won’t happen to us, or decide not to dwell on what “could be,” try to live in and appreciate the present, at some point grief slams into us harder than any body blow. It’s a personal catastrophe that takes our breath away – for months or years. It rearranges our reality and we are alone. Each one of us must process this reality. The guidance of family, friends, therapists, religious mentors or self-help books reaches part of us, but we must do the work on our own. We must come to terms with the event and find a new route on our roadmap. A route we had not previously considered or ever wished to be on, could never have conceived of previously and leaving us blatantly unprepared. We must teach ourselves how get to somewhere that is not here. To pull ourselves out of despair.

Grief, of course, need not result from of a death. It may follow the end of any significant relationship or change in a major life circumstance. Divorce, chronic or terminal illness, infertility and miscarriage, job loss, or loss of freedom may lead you into the stages of grief.

What effect does this have on our own mortality? Does the stress of devastation and long-term panic increase our susceptibility to disease thereby shortening our lives? Are we consumed by our reality and our search for the new route to the extent that those who depend on us suffer? Do we try to be strong for our dependents while inside we continue to crumble? Do we even care about the future of the new route upon which we find ourselves? Would a hug help? I don’t know. Probably. I’m sure it depends on perceived realities, personal circumstances, coping ability, dependence on piety, previous experience, quality of relationships and mindset – different for us all.

What I do know for us collectively, is that it sucks and it’s a long haul. Even your loved ones do not share your exact perceptions, experiences and depth of devastation. And try as they might, bless ‘em, even if they are similarly suffering, they are limited in their ability to feel what is like to be you, and you cannot fathom what they are going through. Perhaps you cannot even discuss it.

The only goodness in all of it is that you have a choice. You look at the values, attitudes, manner of your departed and, when you are able, embody those beautiful aspects of them in order for them to have continued life through you. I’m certainly not to that point yet, but at least I have a goal and that gives me something to work on and look forward to. It’s an unrealistic goal, and I know it, but that is okay. I may enjoy the journey in the meantime and achieve more than I would have otherwise.

Maybe there’s something in that person that you’d like to illuminate. I hope you find it and shine it all over the place.

* * *

I wrote this one year ago. Now it has been two years since my mother left this earth. I have re-read this from time to time to update it, but I still feel the same way. My mother remains in my thoughts throughout every day, and the goal remains.

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