There are many types of grief to go with many types of loss, and it comes down to learning how to rise up through it. Grief is part and parcel to loss. When we lose a dream there is grief. When we lose a love, there is grief. Then there is that horrific grief of losing a person that leaves a gaping hole in the world as we have always known it. My sister says we cannot reconcile to death because we were never created to die. If you are a believer, that may resonate with you. It certainly makes sense as to why we cannot comprehend, with any true comprehension and acceptance, the death of someone we love.
And then there is the loss of self.
It is ironic to me that the death of my best friend has turned the spotlight on me. And though, I ache with the idea of a world for the rest of my life without him in it, his death has forced me to look at myself and how sloppy I have become with my living.
It has only been a couple of weeks since his passing, but in that time it is as if things have gone from from a “hazy shade of gray” to sharp relief. I am seeing how much I have let slide in my life. With his death, everything peripheral that has been taking center stage fell away, and I am seeing for the first time, in a very long time, what is truly important for me.
It is so easy to get tangled up in what others think, in pleasing others. And doing that enforce can erode mission, focus, and passion. I feel like I have been asleep, and this tragedy has been a mighty slap, forcing me to attend to what is going on in my life without my participation.
I committed to some uncomfortable changes in my life, because they NEED to happen for me to have longevity. My hyper focus on being so concerned about people judging me for how my illness impacts my life, is chucked out the window, because I am just who I am. Nothing more. I am not perfect. I’m very ill, and yet by the Grace of Almighty God, SOMETIMES I function like a rock star. I should be good with that. I have been good with that in the past, but something went pear-shaped, and I ended up caring more about what others might think about me than what I know about myself.
That compromise made me lose my understanding of who I am, which directly tied to creativity. I now comprehend, for the last few years, that was what my friend was trying to get me to see. When he railed against my job choices, it was because he knew me well enough to know I was going to lose my imagination and my ability to express things differently than most, which I did. I was unable to finish what I felt I had started professionally, and with that came this invasive sense of failure that has been tenaciously biting at my heels.
I gave away my greatest strength for something that did not matter in the long game.
I was a fool.
I will likely be a fool again, but this I know, the fact that my best friend is not here to get old with the rest of us who loved him, has taught me just how very fleeting life is and how there is no big timer out in the netherworld on pause. It is ticking NOW. Putting off the difficult stuff will only hinder the experience NOW and will shorten the time we have with those we want to be with.
I’m taking care of my body. My brain is this beautiful wild thing that has been chained in a basement where the rest of the house if falling down around it, and it cannot do what it is gifted to do in such a state. I’m loving my husband like no woman has ever loved a man. He is my treasure, my champion, the one who sees my beautiful when I’m the ugliest. I’m taking care of my parents, honoring them, because they gave me all the tools I needed to survive, and they are people I would be honored to be like. I’m cherishing my strong-willed, extraordinary siblings because they are the keepers of our heritage. I’m embracing my friendships and not taking them for granted.
What I am no longer doing is settling for less, allowing distractions of what people think about my decisions for my life to eat me up and steal my peace. I have a small circle of people I am accountable to, and they are a perfect balance. I am drawing close to my Savior, because I know He is the only one who can get me through the great pain of this death. I know he sustains my hope when I can’t see the point of living through the hurt. He is my joy in the morning and my solace at night. There is nothing in my life worth being, without him. He is the one who takes my mistakes and blunders, buries them in the ground and grows beautiful flowers from them.
I know there will be days I don’t feel as committed as I do at the moment as I write this. I have enough background as a psychologist to know that chemicals will fluctuate, life will shift, and I will have moments of absolute doubt as well as moments of even more crystal clear insight than this moment. That is not only the nature of the bipolar mind but the nature of the human. I know that grief is an ebb and flow.
Last night I was thinking of a medical question I had and, as ever, I thought, “I will ask in our next conversation.” There was a cosmic pause and the a rendering of reality when I was face to face with the comprehension, yet again, that there will be no more phone conversations with him. No more insights. No more laughter. No more concern. No more love. No more. No more. No more.
The grief was a punch in the gut, and I found myself right back at the beginning, reckoning once again with the shock and grief of having lost my dear friend. I know this will go on for a while. I know that I will sob and hurt and rail against this tragedy for some time. I will always lament the lack of him in all my big moments going forward. I will miss growing old with him in the picture. I am going to long for the way he understood my mind and the hours of simple intellectual conversation we had that would bore others but stimulated our minds.
I will miss his laugh, his witty dry sense of humor, his fragility, his genius, his talent, his kind heart, his insight. But I will not miss his pain. I will not miss his wounds that never healed and caused him to suffer so. I will not miss the illness that took him and it’s impact on him over time.
I’m going to try to honor his life and use his death as a means of improving my own experience. That sounds selfish-focused, but he would really dig that. He would think it healthy and holistic. I just have to find a way to move through the grief that goes with this loss, and to rise up under it.