Sunday, April 24, 2011

Grief: Turn It Upside Down and Smile

What a concept!  Grief is defined as great sadness especially upon a death.  Its synonyms are misery, angst, sorrow, pain and many other similar words.

Here's a challenge!!  Let's redefine it.  Let's redefine ourselves.  Don't steal my grief; teach me to transform it.  Let me turn the pain of missing my husband to the joy of loving my husband.  Let me turn the misery of living without him to the fullness of living with him in spirit.  Let me turn the pain of my aloneness into wonder at such sweet and beautiful memories. 

On Easter people say, "He is risen."  How about us raising ourselves from the death of those we love.  Raising ourselves better and stronger and enriched by the memory of that love.  The most useful technique I learned in London at the Personal Enhancement workshop was to play my memories backwards - with circus music.  (I'm not sure about the circus music - anything beautiful or happy!)  I accidentally walked past a restaurant Artie and I had eaten in many years ago.  I started to feel sad, thinking about his death.  I played my memories backwards and there we were eating dinner and enjoying the food and each other.  I felt happy again.  When I come home I always look for the love note on the door and feel so lonely when it isn't there.  I practiced on the airplane and when I got home I played my memories backwards and remembered all the love notes that had been left for me over the years.  Instead of feeling sorry for myself I actually patted the door and smiled. Thank you, Artie, for writing me so many love notes over the years.

I can be lonely.  I do feel lonely - I am still in this earth bound body.  But how can I ever be alone when Artie loves me? 

I reserve the right to cry rivers - oceans - of tears whenever I need to.  I am also discovering my right to invent a giggling grief - a laughing grief - a grief that celebrates love instead of turning it into a grizzled crippling ugly thing. 

When I find myself focusing only on Artie's death I am going to think about his life.  When I find myself drowning in self pity at being alone I am going to think about how it feels to have his arms around me.  If I change what I think I will change what I feel.  I'm not delusional.  I know he's dead.  I know I can't change that.  What I can change is how I feel about it.  Our life has limits but our imagination is boundless. 

I am not living in the past - I am taking the happy moments of the past into the future with me.  I want my husband to laugh with me, to know that I still love him but that I am finding ways to be alive for both of us.  I am learning.  I am still learning.  The love, the tears, the laughter, the sweetness, the loneliness, the pure joy of Mr. and Mrs. Warner all mixed up together in a delicious soup of my life being big enough to contain our lives.

Is there room for another man?  Ever?  Don't know.  I must confess sometimes when someone I know has started a new and loving relationship I am a little jealous.  On the other hand - if the rest of my life belongs to Artie - isn't that the way it was for 23 years?  Isn't that what I am used to?  I hope some day we are reunited and can laugh together and love together in the same form - but until then - this is what I am given.  I am in love with a dead man and it's not easy - but sometimes - it wasn't easy being in love with the live one either!!

Play your memories back and bask in the happy ones.  We can love the past, live in the present, and look to the future all at the same time.  We just need to learn how to do it - and, for me, have it be real.  Laughter and giggling release chemicals in the brain that are nature's anti-depressants.  Chase laughter and catch it.  Think silly thoughts and see how you feel.

I wish you all surprisingly happy lessons and a rising of your spirit whether you expect it or not.  I hope that the tears you have nourish you in ways you do not have to understand.  Wherever you are, there you are and it is okay to accept yourself there even as you see what you can see when you open your eyes in a new way.  xo

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