Grief Keeper

Longing, loss, loss, and grief. Those are some of the hardest things to work with. I’m not only talking about the death of “a person,” it can be the death of a routine, a recipe you lost from your great-great-grandmother, a job opportunity you thought you had in the bag, or you just found out they discontinued your favorite brand of toilet paper. Grief is not something to be “cured” or “to get over.”  You have to live through it, grapple with it, smack it down, and watch it bounce back up and feel it tear your heart to pieces yet again.  The bummer in our society is we have been taught to deny our grief.  We can have it for a little bit, but not too long because we need to “get over it.”

John Green wrote the following in his novel, The Fault in Our Stars.  “The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me because there was no longer anyone to remember with.  It felt like morning the death of a co-rememberer, which meant losing the memory itself of the things we’d done together that were real and less important than they had been hours ago”.  That’s POWERFUL! I understand this quote to the tightest throat-strangling level.  I lost my entire birth family before I was 45; parents and siblings; my only child.  All my birth family that co-created my childhood memories have passed on.  Now, I’m the “Keeper of My Own Memories.”

Nothing seems to be normal in our world lately. We fear sharing the fear we all feel with all the COVID deaths that could potentially knock on our door. The experience of grief, no, actually the effect of grief, is something we need to reorient ourselves to . . . again.  That includes physical issues, emotional fears, and all those deeply hidden feelings.  I think a lot of us feel like “I’m grieving” has been stamped on our foreheads.

Remember, feeling lost can happen by “grieving” anything, not just self. Maybe you’ve lost a cherished item or are beginning to slowly lose some of your memories from aging. Or, you are in shock from learning you are terminally ill, just when you also found your spouse is cheating on you.  Grieving makes it easy to forget how to behave, where to park the car, or being shocked when we have moments where we cannot comprehend the meaning of a word – at all.  How do we pull ourselves out of the quagmire of grief? Very carefully and with a generous amount of gentleness.

I’ve created a new “F” word for society. “Forgiveness.” Forgiving can help release the pain of longing, loss, being lost, and feeling nothing but grief.  Forgive those who have passed away, the boss that didn’t give you your well-deserved promotion, and forgive your husband for watching football every Sunday.  Last, but not least, forgive your hairdresser for that ugly “doo” she gave you just before the wedding you needed to attend.

The bottom line is that letting go IS the best form of self-healing.  So, let all your crazy human feelings bounce around and just be your authentic self.  Remember to giggle and dance to your heart’s desire.

Hugs, Dr. Deb

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