Saturday, October 4, 2014

How to Grieve?

I believe that the extent of grieving is proportional to the depth of the relationship.  Know of people who will go to every funeral, no matter how remotely they knew the person.  I only feel comfortable attending ones that celebrate the lives of people I am truly close to.

Because I come from a fractured family, I can honestly say that the deepest relationships I have are not with my blood relatives, but with others who have come into my life by choice.  I am still grieving (7 years) the loss of the woman who in many ways has been more of a mother figure to me than the one who gave birth to me.

I cannot think of her without tears welling up because I miss her so much.  Whereas I can't say that about anyone I've lost from my genetic family.  The night the voice mail message arrived, my stomach and heart plummeted. When the news was verified, I completely broke down for hours, over days, weeks, months.  D had never seen me lost in grief like that before.  I had never seen me like that before.

We had just moved into our current house.  I had tradespeople all around working on stuff.  We were supposed to head up to the cottage that night and to Nice the week later.  But all I wanted to do was go crawl in a hole.  My biggest supporter had been torn from me and I didn't know what to do.  I had such great plans for us, now that we had moved closer.  Even now, I will find myself thinking how much she'd love seeing these places I've been...

So how do you grieve someone who has pushed you away and deserted you?  Who wouldn't let you in unless you concede to being "wrong"?   How that type of control and manipulation creates a barrier and robs both of you of something inherently human. Some things may not be reconcilable, even at time of imminent death.

In my case, I realized that I grieved the loss of that person a long time ago at the pivotal event when I was pushed away.  And though some tears broke through at the news of their death and was shaken from the reality of it, the depth of sorrow wasn't there even though it "should have been" or was "supposed to" or "ought to have been" as they had technically been "in my life" since I was born. 

I can't help but feel bad or embarrassed for not having an "expected" relationship with certain family members and thus not be able to even act "normally" in times that routinely bring people together.  It's a terribly ungrounded feeling and very difficult to go about your daily routine with that script running in the background.

I've shed many tears of frustration for all I could have done and are capable of giving but am prevented from. Impossible for me not to feel guilty for not "being there" even though you know you are not welcomed. 

Knowing how others will label you as a "deserter" or "unfeeling" when they have no idea how much you've suffered from not having a decent relationship to begin with. And how that lack of support throughout the years has meant growing up without the type of reliability and security you'd expect from the people closest, charged with your care. 

Taking a broad view of life, I believe those challenges existed to shape me, my thinking and my resolve. To force me to learn to stand up strong and fight for things I believe in.  Necessary to overcome in order to create a life I can proudly call my own.  To not assume that everything that was taught or had to do with "family" is automatically "right", "kind" or honorable.

I cannot begin to express how grateful I am that my childhood did not permanently damage or rob me of being able to feel love, empathy and compassion.  My upbringing felt unbearably harsh.  It was extremely difficult living with consistent unreasonably frank disapproval of who I was as a person.  I've always felt very deeply and am easily hurt.  On the other hand, very easily moved by beauty.

How differently would I have turned out had I been born into a family unit that is stable, full of love, compassion, kindness and honest guidance?  I cannot know.  But it is certainly within my power to create that environment now.

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