About four weeks ago, the man I had been dating and I decided to stop seeing one another. Not necessarily because we wanted to, but because it was what we felt we had to do. We had been together six months, and because of forces outside of our control, it became too, well – complicated. So, in order to protect everyone’s sanity, we parted. Amicably, but still – we ended what we had and have moved on to another phase in our lives. Not exactly the outcome we expected.
The relationship feels as if it hadn’t truly run its course. Like Schubert’s Unfinished Symphony, an abrupt ending to something lovely.
It is sad. And I grieve. Not all the time. Not everyday. But, that grief – it’s a sneaky little bastard. Just when you think you have it under control – it comes and smacks you in the head.
Put the event that caused the grief in perspective. Lost a pencil? Don’t let it get to you! Is it a GOLDEN pencil? No? Get over it! There are more where it came from. Take a breath.
Acknowledge the event that caused the grief. When we have experienced a loss, we want to do anything possible to NOT think about it. We avoid everything that might have us think about the event. Because grief HURTS and we are hard-wired to flee from pain – physical and emotional pain. But, by avoiding it, we never truly deal with the pain, we’ve just bottled it up – and that sneaky bastard grief can come back and slap you in the head again.
When the grief returns, feel it – then release it. Let the grief wash over you. Feel the pain. Analyze what caused the flood of emotion. Then, breathe and release it. Release it into the world, into the heavens, to a higher power – whatever. Just let it go. Give yourself the permission to feel it, then let it go.
Don’t feel guilty about releasing it. When we experience a loss, without realizing we are even doing it, we set a “deadline” for how long we will grieve. Sometimes we are too hard on ourselves and set a deadline WAY far away. Then, when we start to feel better, when the grief is no longer palpable and we stop thinking about it EVERY WAKING HOUR – we feel guilty. Guilty for not feeling the pain. We say, “Wait a minute! It’s only been fill in the blank number for your time! I should still be feeling pain!” And we begin obsessively telling ourselves over and over again to remember you are grieving. I experienced this when my grandfather died. I was devastated. For several years on the anniversary of his death, I would spend the day reminding myself. Then one year – I forgot. Two days later, it occurred to me and I was filled with so much GUILT. I cried for three days. I had released the grief, without even realizing it, and then punished myself for having done so.
I can’t change the fact that my relationship ended. That is a reality. I can’t stop the pain from coming. But, I am going to acknowledge it – then I am going to release it. And then realize that everything is going to be ok.
And keep that sneaky bastard – debilitating grief – from slapping me in the head.