“Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a familiar pattern of behaviour.”
My life has changed drastically in the last 6 months. My mom’s passing in November started a tidal wave of events and ideas that hit me hard, throwing me around, and leaving me feeling confused, lost and helpless.
At 61 years old, I feel grief for the first time in my life. My valued Rabbi and good friend, Tina said to me “This is not new grief, Amy.” I didn’t know what that meant when she first said it to me. I am beginning to think I do now.
I have come to understand that, for me, grief is about loss. My mom’s passing created an explosion that grew into a massive sense of loss. I will never have a verbal conversation with my mom again. My brothers and I will never share sibling play and have fun together without screens. My son and I will continue to struggle to relate to each other with any kind of depth and meaningful authentic conversations. I will never win the “Teacher of Year” award. I will never finish a marathon. I probably will never see China or Japan. There just isn’t enough time in my life to do those things that I might love to do, and that aren’t necessarily a priority.
I’m guessing that grief takes many shapes and forms. It happens at all ages and in various ways. How we experience grief varies depending on who we each are and what we’re ready to embrace and feel.
Grief is mostly about dealing with loss. When my dad died in 1999 I experienced a tremendous sadness. I suffered for many weeks. I cried a lot then and found so much comfort in my familial and spiritual communities. I think, though, that, at that time I was not ready to really experience grief. Grief is different.
People say “Grief subsides with time.” “It gets easier.” I am finding that this is not to be true. In fact, I’m finding that this is a unique characteristic of grief. Grief is forever. It’s about loss and, in fact, mostly the loss of those things that I never really had in the first place. In terms of longings that I’ve held onto for my whole life, grief presents the realization that I never will have them. As I age into my elder years, mortality presents itself and I must let go of those things for which I no longer I have the time or the passion. My teaching practice has grown into a series of workshops and a commitment to school boards for training. My marathon run has morphed into Yoga, swimming bicycling, walking, and climbing and maintaining physical strength. My relationship with my children is no longer daily, but involves constant attempts to gather together at some time during the year and ongoing visits with individuals when we can.
As I let go slowly and surely, I leave myself open to receive. And, as I transition into older age, there is so much left to embrace. Changes, yes! Changes that will enhance, fulfill and help me grow. Grief doesn’t go away, and, in some ways, it can help me to feel more complete.
In just a few more weeks, Paul and I move into our new, beautiful house, leaving our Yurtville space open, free for retreat and peaceful sanctuary. In the physical realm, at least, it is a sign for a new beginning. And I welcome that with an open heart and mind