We have been taught to believe that there is structure and framework to grief – for example, “The five stages” of grief tell you that grief is made up of feelings and emotions of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance as a part of dealing with loss.
A common misconception is that if you move on too quickly, it’s not real; you are in denial, you are suppressing your true sadness, or you are doing something wrong. People can develop a sense of guilt about being happy when they have lost a loved one, or don’t want to ‘move on’ because they believe it is dishonouring of their memory. What if none of this is real or true? Would your loved one really want you to be sad?
What if you didn’t have stay miserable to prove how much you cared? What if you could care, have gratitude, and yes, tears and sadness too – but what if you could choose, rather than do it the way everyone else says is correct? And what if joy could be part of it all, too?
I know a young lady whose father passed away when she was 15. Her mother very shortly after re-kindled a high-school romance, whilst she instead spent the next 10 years using the loss of her father to explore her own ideas about death, change and life, and in the process contributed to many others who had also experienced loss. Neither of these ways of dealing with loss is wrong, and the young woman is grateful for her experience in creating the person she is today. She realised that when she didn’t buy into any belief that her mother moved on too quickly, or that she took too long to move on, she could see the gift that each of their journeys was to their own lives and each other.
Moving forward isn’t about leaving anything behind, or ‘getting over’ a trauma, but choosing to live in each moment. It is making a choice to be present and grateful in life, even when things are not so rosy.
If there’s one thing that I have learned by my own journey with losing loves ones, is that every moment is a gift and you can receive all of it with ease, if you are willing!
What gift could we be in the world if we didn’t worry about how to grieve or how to move on, and just chose in the moment whatever it is we need to choose?