Loving What You Have
Grief can be all-consuming, particularly if you ever venture into complicated grief where time does not lessen symptoms but rather continually flares up and deepens. Having been stuck in complicated grief once myself, I know how difficult it is to see anything outside the lens of grief, I know how difficult it is to experience joy, I know how difficult it is to step back into life. My complicated grief spiralled me down a road of pain, one I experienced fully in both mind and body.
I was like Humpty Dumpty, where all the King’s horses and all the King’s men could not put me back together again. It was a very complicated grief.
It took hours of therapy appointments, a myriad of doctor’s appointments, hours of sitting in waiting rooms before I became convinced that I needed a change, needed to change.
I learned that there is a difference between being in pain with or without suffering; suffering is our own choice, it is our own thoughts, and it is our own approach to the pain. One can be in pain without suffering, it just depends upon what you choose to focus on. As for me, I was so focused on losing Dad that, at times, it was all I could do to not run headlong into misery wishing I was with him. And often I did. But I forgot something in the midst of my own complicated grief.
I forgot to love what I have.
I forgot that I still had a Mum, two big brothers and a big sister (who, by the way, were all grieving in their own way as well). Because sometimes we forget, or we miss, what is right in front of us.
It becomes so commonplace, habitual, predictable to have them there, that we forget to love what we have. It was this family of mine (among many others) who helped pull me through my complicated, stuck, grief.
Who is there, helping pull you through yours?
I know we often talk about finding things to be thankful for, fresh breezes, tiny ducklings, a good steak. Whatever it might be, we are so often encouraging you to find the small little details that you are thankful for every day, to bring your focus back onto things that bring a smile to your face.
I want to extend this thought further, and I want to ask you to remember. Remember what you love, remember who you love,
remember why you love.
Maybe you love going for walks along the beach, petting dogs, traveling. Remember what you love, remember that the things you loved before loss you probably still love after loss. Perhaps you will not love it in quite the same way, especially if it was an activity you shared with your loved one, but if you loved it once, you are likely to love it still.
Remember who you love; all the people that you have around you, they may be waiting in the periphery, waiting until a time as to when you are ready to fully embrace them again, but remember that they still love you. And you still love them.
Grief is a bit of a waiting game, your loved ones are waiting for you patiently, you are waiting for grief to soften.
It is a balancing act, because it is so easy to isolate yourself in grief, it is also easy to pretend that you are completely okay and do not need anybody else. But remember who you love, as who you loved before loss are still very likely to be the same people you love after loss. Maybe it is siblings, parents, children, cousins, friends, grandparents, aunties, uncles, pastors, partners.
There are so many people that we have around us at any given time, and when we are deep in grief, we often forget that we are loved; we forget to love in return.
I think the point that ties in these last two is this, remember why you love. Remember what it feels like to love. Remember what it was like pre-loss, where you loved and gave of yourself deeply. Remember that that person is still you, and that you can still love as deeply as that in the after death season of your life. Remember why you love, love.
Complicated grief is difficult to navigate, and from someone who has been there and through it, I do recommend seeking professional help. As these professionals are trained to see the things that we cannot see, and when we are in deep grief there are a lot of things we forget or miss about the real world. It is like being stuck in a deep well, and you cannot climb out of it on your own accord, you need to be able to reach up your hand and grab a hold of the one reaching down to you. Therapy is a little bit like that.
There is no taboo in getting that level of support, no taboo in asking for help.
Getting help can teach you to remember, to hold on, to persevere. It can help you remember to love what you have.
By Danielle Myers