Permission to Stop, Or …
I'm returning to a regular publishing schedule in the grief series. I have had topics requested for me consider for a reflection. They are all topics about which I think I could have something useful to say. So, I'm going to start responding to those requests. I'll publish posts about grief on Fridays. If you would like me to consider a topic for a reflection in the grief series, please drop me an email.
In reflecting on my own grief, I have realized I know longer mourn them in the same manner. I have stopped mourning them, in a way. When I realized this had happened, I stopped to consider how I had come to that moment. How had I been able to give myself permission to stop mourning? Or had something else happened?
Perhaps “stop” is to fine of a point; I don’t think we ever truly stop. I haven’t completely stopped the mourning related to my parents. It doesn’t have the intensity it had six months ago, a year ago, two years ago. I suspect I will never fully stop mourning their death. I suspect there will always be intense moments. But the intense moments will not be pointed so much as they will be a longing and yearning for the connection. A connection which is interrupted, changed, but not broken.
In the years since my parents have died, I realized much about my relationship with them. As my father was heard to say often, “it is what it is.” I can’t change any of those events or facts today. I can only learn from them, accept them with grace and dignity, and then grow as an individual from those learnings, insights, and realizations. I no longer need to mourn those events, the happenings which shaped me for good and for ill. I can stop, relax if you like. I no longer need to carry the weight of mourning with me. It is no longer a part of my daily life, like taking a prescribed medication – something from the outside needed but unwanted. Rather, in many ways, grief is simply a part of me now. Mourning is the process of learning to live with grief as a part of ourselves. It’s how I have become comfortable in my own skin with grief woven into the fabric of my life.
I look back over my lifetime. I see many places where grief has been woven into the tapestry of my life – the death of my grandparents and my Aunt Gerry. The loss of a part of a digit as a child. The sale of our dairy herd. The sale of our farm. All these are grief woven into the tapestry of my life. Grief can be related to various happenings and events. But grief is grief. Like thread it is sometimes thick and sometimes thin. The thread is all the same no matter where it is woven into the fabric; grief is grief. I have learned to become comfortable with the wide thread of grief woven into the fabric of my life where my parents’ thread once was. It itches like wool. Perhaps that’s what mourning is, weaving the thread of grief where my parents’ threads once help make the warp and weft of my life.
I don’t experience grief as something to be hidden. I don’t experience mourning as a disfigurement of the psyche or the soul. I experience mourning as a normal part of life. Grief being woven into the tapestry of my life is normal, too. I will never be rid of this loss, nor would I want to be. The loss is a part of me; it’s a thread woven into the fabric. Without the loss, I wouldn’t be who I am today. Part of the strength of the weaving which makes up the fabric and tapestry of my life includes the thread of grief woven into it. It is important. Pulling the thread to remove it puts the whole at risk. It is an important part of the fabric and tapestry of my life. I suspect the grief thread is important in the fabric and tapestry of others’ lives, too.
I didn’t give myself permission to stop grieving my parents’ death. Rather, grief for me simply became a part of my life and who I am. I will always be Frank and Christine’s son. I will always be a boy raised on a dairy farm in south central Illinois. I will always be an adopted child. I will always carry the loss of my parents in my skin, too. I don’t mourn them every day; I have given myself permission to stop that part of mourning. When circumstances are right, I’ll feel the itch of that thread of grief. I’ll remember. I’ll be thankful. I’ll keep moving. The itchy thread reminding me of life’s fabric and tapestry surrounding me, like a blanket, keeping me warm. It offers protection. As a tapestry, it tells me, in part, about who I am; it’s a part of my story. It is an unfinished story at that.