A decade of grief… and life
Yesterday marked 10 years since my mom died. I’m blown away by the speed at which this decade has passed. So many things feel the same, yet so much has changed. Reflecting on death also gives us opportunity to reflect on life. It could be reflecting on the life that was lost, or on progress that has happened since losing a loved one.
In times of loss, it feels like we can’t go on. The pain is insurmountable and the grief inconsolable. This isn’t exclusive just to death, it could be loss of a friendship, divorce, or some other type of trauma. For the survivor, the grief blankets everything. It’s a thick, dark fog where visibility is extremely limited. You learn to navigate by hours versus by years. Over time, the fog in front of you begins to clear. You don’t recall your loss on a regular basis (and then you feel guilt when you realize it). You may even learn how to temporarily shrug off any flashbacks or memories into an “oh well, can’t change what happened” sort of way. And then you feel guilty for minimizing someone in your mind who was once so vitally important to your being. There are also times where the loss smacks you so hard across the face that you have to catch your breath. Guess what comes after that? Guilt of not being able to move forward. It’s a vicious guilt-grief-guilt-grief cycle.
The fog that you were trying to clear in front of you does eventually get better. Things can even feel crystal clear at times. But the fog hasn’t entirely cleared, it’s just moved behind you. It invades your memories. With each of these years that has passed, the details get more murky. What did she like? What memories did we have? What does her voice sound like? What was her opinion on something? So many of these things have been lost in the fog of time passed. It’s really frustrating and many times feels like a dishonor of the person you loved so much.
While it gets more difficult to look back, I’m thankful the path forward is less hazy. There is comfort in remembering the importance of life. Those feelings haven’t diminished one bit. Life is short, time is precious, people are important, and experiences are vital. No fog there.
They say life goes on — and it does. In the 10 years that have passed, I:
- Got a dog
- Graduated from business school
- Got married
- Established a home
- Grew a career
- Started a company
- Made and lost and made more friends
- Got divorced
- Learned to accept myself
- Visited great places
- Lost said dog
- Re-established a new normal
- Found love again
So maybe it’s time to stop feeling guilt over the fog that is filling my past. I can’t hang onto those memories as much as I’d like to. Straining to “will” memories to come back will never stop the rapid erosion of time or distance from someone. When you think they come back, they’re often distorted and out-of-focus so they’re hard to trust.
Today, I’m focusing on not looking back, and not feeling guilty about it. (Or trying not to, at least.) I’ll celebrate the fact that I had a great mom. I was loved by her. Some of her will be with me forever. The memories I have of her may not be specific, but I can move forward enthusiastically with life and all the awesome things it entails because of the gift of perspective her death brought. Life is short, time is precious, people are important, and experiences are vital.
Life is short, time is precious, people are important, and experiences are vital.