There are “possibilities” in life and there are “certainties” in life. Moving cross-country, having children, dream jobs, picking the winning lottery numbers – those are possibilities; they could happen, but they’re not guarantees in life. Taxes, heartache (which may be brought on by the former), skinned knees, sunsets – these are certainties in life. As is grief. At some point, we all experience grief. From pets to parents to friends to spouses, everyone will experience the loss of loved ones and will experience grief. There is no way around it, over it, or away from it; we all will go through it. How each of us does that will look different. And who we’re grieving for will play a significant role in how we grieve. But one distinction that I think is important to remember is this – we have grief IN life, but we need not LIVE IN grief.
We live, we love, we lose, and we live some more. I know that sounds harsh, perhaps simplistic. But that’s kind of what I’m going for here. Breaking it down to the simple. And it’s the first and last part of that statement that I want to focus on. We live. We grow and learn and fall down and shine and meet new people and cry and laugh and move and… we live. If we only focus on the grief, we stop living. When grief is all we hang on to, we stay in the past, nurturing and tending to something that’s, well, dead. Memories can be encouraging and comforting, but they can also build a wall that keeps us from experiencing life.
Grief is always with us, to one degree or another. It never really goes away, we just learn how to process it. We learn how to let go of unfulfilled hopes and dreams, and we learn how to cherish the memory of the one we loved. But we have to learn how to receive new opportunities and experiences and dreams and gifts so that we can live.
I was talking with a friend over breakfast one day about this and I shared an analogy. I likened it to a party, or rather the day after a party. Stick with me here. Say you have a great party. Lots of good friends, fun music, great food, and even better conversation; it’s one of those nights you know you’ll remember fondly forever. You might even say you never want the night to end. But eventually it does end. The guests filter out and you sigh contentedly, albeit exhausted, before turning in. Rising the next morning, after a shower and breakfast what do you do? There are cups, plates, empty food bowls, left over refreshments, trash, a couple of broken glasses (oops), perhaps some decorations, you name it, all scattered about your home. Do you just walk amongst the chaos from that point on, not wanting to get rid of the aftermath of a great party because it was such a great party and you want to remember it forever? Or do you clean up and put your home to rights, tucking those memories of a great party in your heart and photo album to enjoy for years to come?
Keeping the mess in place won’t make the party still a party – that ended. Keeping the mess in place will just make living tenuous, at best. No, you have to clean up and enjoy the memory. In order to keep living life, you have to clean up from the party. That’s what grief is like. Moving forward in life and allowing grief to find its proper place does not minimize or void the pain and emptiness and sadness from the loss, it allows life to be lived. And that’s okay. Because there is grief in life. Much care needs to be given to keep from living in grief.
#Discover life. Always #LoveOnPurpose and #LiveYourFaithBoldly.
In the immortal words of Bill and Ted: Party on, Dudes!
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