Letting Go Begins with Treasuring the Experience…
The past two years as I have been living through the death of family and the death of love relationships, I cannot help but see how my process of grieving for both is nearly identical.
My first inkling of this came when I was flying home for the funeral of a loved one a few months after an incredible heartbreak. I felt terrible because I was more wrapped up in the pain of my lost relationship than I was in the death of my close relative. I realized that the death of a relationship, in its own way, is as profound a loss as the death of a relative. Yet many times we don’t give ourselves time to mourn. We rush to move on and often try to bury our pain in a new relationship while working through grief. We judge ourselves for not being “over it,” but the relationships we create are in every way but literal physical form living, breathing “lovechildren,”and to suffer the loss of them triggers pain and grief akin to death.
Let’s start at the birth of our lovechild. When you meet someone there is immediately something present, a chemistry or energy that is the original seed of creation but also something other than you or your partner. When the seed is planted and both parties agree to contribute to its growth, suddenly it solidifies as its own separate identity. The thing between you and your partner is not solely you or your partner, rather it is its own perfect combination of what you have created together. It is in a very real sense an individual energy of what lies between you two. This lovechild is sometimes called, “Us” or “We” or “Brangelina” but for now let us call it “YouMe.”
YouMe lives to be different ages and we watch it grow with joy and bafflement, with trepidation of screwing it up. Much like any parent, we subconsciously throw our deepest neurosis at it, while consciously thinking we are “protecting” our lovechild. And one day our worst fears are realized, tragedy strikes, and YouMe is killed. Maybe it only lived to be 3 months old, maybe 9, maybe 20 years old. But when YouMe dies, we as parents deal with the death through our own process of grieving.
*Just in from my googling efforts, the 7 stages of Grief*
1. Shock or Disbelief
7. Acceptance and Hope
A year and a half and five funerals later, rather than berating myself for silliness of intensity at the loss of my love relationships while dealing with the death of my father and aunt, I have forgiven myself by realizing the death of YouMe is every bit as real as any other. Granted: some people’s YouMe is like a cat with nine lives, but for everyone who dives into the truth of an ending, the stages begin.
I find myself in the final three stages as I mourn my father and the YouMes of the past two years. I am struggling to find the Acceptance and Hope. If Google tells me it is the final stage it must exist and I have faith my personal resurrection will soon come to pass. Lately there have been brief moments of pure light. They randomly pop out of the fog of “should haves” and “could have beens.”
I realize I have been disrespecting the very integrity of my lovechild by trying to discount its beauty. It is like I have been obsessively pouring over the baby book looking at the most luminous pictures of YouMe trying to make it somehow less beautiful. Angrily I think, “well in this picture YouMe has his father’s nose, and I don’t think I ever liked his nose. YouMe was really not that amazing.” I convince myself that somehow denying the best parts of YouMe will lessen the pain.
I stumbled upon “Acceptance and Hope” tonight when I brought out a picture of YouMe for a friend who is about to have another lovechild. She is terrified as we all are when we have endured the pain of loss and realize we now have something again we don’t want to lose. I instinctively told her a story of the birth of one of mine. And there I was suddenly looking at the most beautiful amazing child, perfect in the moment of creation. Just like that I understood. Healing is valuing every moment I had with YouMe. The lessons are there to be gained from even the painful, ugly moments of parenting. Letting go begins with treasuring the experience of YouMe, not attempting to discount it. For denying any part of the relationship is denying part of yourself.
Tonight I did not resent the empty space in my life without YouMe. I did not think sadly of how it went from being so prodigious to the bones of now. I held the picture of YouMe tonight and marvelled at the incandescence of that moment when anything was possible. When we held hands at a waterfall that looked like heaven on earth and understood that second was to be treasured because it would never happen the same way again; when we decided against all the false starts and bumps that we wanted to try an “Us” while picking out sheets at Ross; when we welcomed a “We” in passionate love-scapades. In that moment when YouMe’s eyes sparkle again and my heart breaks with the beauty as my mind says “thank you, thank you, thank you,” I am beginning to heal.
An American Mutt with a Bengali name, Nitai Aleksiewicz was raised with an “alternative” lifestyle and eastern religion. With gurus and malas as common as peanut butter and jelly she has learned her own path is to cultivate a center somewhere between high vibrational thoughts and feet firmly planted on the ground. She currently lives in Los Angeles and is taking the scenic route through life. She hopes you enjoy her reflections on the ride.
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The 4 Stages of a Good Divorce. A Letter to my Children: You do not come from a Broken Home. These People are Rare Gems—Keep Them, Fight for Them, don’t Give Up on Them. Mom, can I Call her Mom, Too? Jon Stewart makes first appearance since retiring—”it’s not your country.” Waylon shares 10 transformingly beautiful Quotes about Love. Why your Yoga Goals are (Probably) Irrelevant, if not Downright Dangerous. 40 Things I’ve Learned in 40 Years. Dear Woman in the White Car at Margaritas Mexican Grill in West Memphis, Arkansas on July 15th, 2012. How I Raise My Dying Son.