A few days ago, I met with some friends just to visit and share. We had a wonderful time and one of the topics we discussed was grief. Discussing grief might not sound like your idea of a wonderful time, but it was because we could share openly with no judgment. That word carries so many meanings from the deepest pain to the most superb lessons; from losing a loved one to losing a job, a home, a friend, etc.
I am sixty-nine years old (forty on the inside), and, over this lifetime, have experienced many kinds and levels of grief, as you likely have. When I was young, I really didn’t have a concept of grief and would not have described myself as grieving. Yet, I was. For many years, I was grieving the loss of growing up in a family. I just knew I had deep pain associated with it. Now, I see it was a process of grieving for something I was never allowed to have, at least as a child.
I have grieved over the loss of friends. I thought we were very close and then watched them disappear from my life in a moment. Again, grieving what was not to be. I have grieved a home – one in particular. As you may know from reading some of my posts, I have moved forty-two times in my life, with the last one being just last year. But there was one home. Out of all the others, I wanted to stay there forever. Instead, it was only two years and I grieved that home for many, many years – the loss of what I deeply desired and what would have been. It is easy to “perfectize” (my new word) that which never was. To take one little part of it. Then mentally and emotionally expand it into my picture of what should have been.
Perfectizing turns the imperfect into false perfection.
I am not trying to trivialize the word grief by relegating it to the loss of things. However, many times our lives are intertwined with things which hold memories we cherish and so we grieve their loss. I have grieved the loss of pets. For those of you who are not pet lovers, it’s ok. I happen to be one, and love my pets deeply. Losing them is like losing a little part of myself; losing the most understanding of companions who showed their love silently.
I have also suffered the deep and unutterable grief of losing my beloved husband of almost forty-nine years. With his death, I also lost my future, my heart, and half of me. That grief never leaves – it simply changes. The intensity diminishes but I will always miss him. You not only grieve the loss of the person, you grieve the loss of what you will never experience with that person. Things as small as sitting on the porch together, holding their hand, and knowing what you were each thinking.
In our conversation a few days ago, we discussed the gamut of grief. We also discussed the beauty and extreme, but exquisite, lessons which have arisen inside of each of us because of pain. From homes to loved ones, the pain is there and we all realized, that while we don’t want to go through it again, we treasure that piece of gold inside is which was purified by the fire.
There will be more discussions on grief and your comments or experiences are very welcome.