Tuesday, August 11, 2015

How to Grieve Positively

One common side effect of being a SOS is experiencing the feeling of guilt. For me, it's not just the guilt of the “what ifs,” “could haves,” and “should haves,” but also of the grieving process itself. 

If I could put a value on what Andy meant to me and measure it in how I can grieve, he would be worth crying over every minute of every day for the rest of my life and then some. And yet, despite that being unreasonable and impossible, I feel guilty over the moments when I am not crying. When I feel good. How should or could I ever possibly feel anything other than despair when the man I loved, my other half, is gone forever?

As time insists on moving forward, I am slowly adjusting to his absence. It doesn’t make it hurt any less, but his loss is no longer brand new. In the beginning, everything that wasn’t exactly how I had been living up until June 25, 2015 was a rude reminder that my life had forever changed. While some days I still feel like I’m walking in a daze, at the end of the day, I return to my new “normal”- the life of a girl in grieving, who now sleeps alone, who surrounds herself with friends, and who works hard to stay distracted. As I gradually adjust, the distractions grow in length and number as the rawness starts to heal. 

Many of the distractions help me to feel good and ignore the pain for a few moments. Then a part of me screams out, “How dare you! Andy is dead! Isn’t he worth crying over?” Of course he is! God hears my pain, and I will show it so He and everyone knows how wonderful a man the world lost!

“So you’re trying to cry it out enough to show Andy that he was valued,” my therapist observed. “But why not try to honor him enough instead?” 
“Isn’t that what I’m doing?”
“Yes, but there are many ways to honor someone. Think about your positive memories and experiences with Andy. Focusing on the happy memories is a way to honor someone’s spirit too.”

This seemed obvious. 

“Ok, but I don’t like to think of him judging me. What if he’s looking down and doesn’t agree? What if despair is the better translation of how much I loved him and how much his loss has hurt me?”
“When one passes on, your soul retains all the best, positive parts of you. All the negativity is left behind. So how can he judge you for feeling good? Goodness is all that he has."

Andy, my positive memories of you are like little golden treasures and now they’ll be of greater use to me than I realized. While they hurt because all they can ever be are memories, they feel good because what we had was beautiful. Our time together was short, but I wouldn’t trade one moment of our years together for anything.

Lessons: Don't just let your loved one who has passed away see you cry; reflect joyfully on the positive memories and experiences you shared.

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