Letting Go, part I.

February 7, 2011 at 8:51 am | Posted in Heartbreak | 9 Comments

In order to get out of this Stuck Place, I’ve been thinking a lot about pain and grief lately.

Mostly how I’ve approached loss over the course of my life.

Because, even 17 years after my cousin died, it still hurts my soul to think about the events leading up to her death. Because I didn’t even TRY to help, even with the letters and phone calls where it was obvious she needed my help.*

And with her death, I truly thought my link to that side of the family was gone.

Except then I started to call my aunt, and visit her in NJ. And then I started to make regular visits with she and my uncle on the Cape. And spent more and more time with Aunt Judy, and forged a NEW relationship, a different one, with the family.

It was never enough time, I’m realizing. But I thought I had all the time in the world to spend with them. I never thought she’d be gone so soon.

But now that she’s gone, I have to figure out how to create a new relationship with my uncle and cousins.

It’s exhausting to think about. Because I’m not OKAY with the idea that I won’t see Judy ever again.

I mean, really. I’m just BARELY okay with Amy being gone. And you know, being okay is really just a product of seventeen years of adjusting to the reality that she’s no longer alive – not any sort of active processing I put into place.

I just stuck all of my grief into a corner closet somewhere until it didn’t hurt as much.

So I’m realizing. I’m really bad at letting go. I do denial REALLY well. If I don’t talk with my uncle, I can pretend she’s not gone. I can see her name in my cell phone directory and think that I should call her instead. (I haven’t, even though I want to hear her voice. I just can’t – because I’m afraid maybe they’ve turned her service off and I’ll get someone else. That would be even worse than hearing her voice on the phone, I think.)

So there’s this part of me who is beating myself up for not being a better niece to my uncle. Because I love him and want to HELP. I should help. I should call him and visit and help him and show him I love him and be a part of HIS life.

But I can’t.

Because reaching out HURTS.

It means I have to let go and accept that she’s gone.

And I can’t.

Not yet.

_______________________

*And yes, I KNOW that there was likely nothing I could do. I know that. But I didn’t even try. I didn’t reach out. Instead, I rolled my eyes and went to some frat party or something.

Knowing that I couldn’t have done anything does NOT abdicate me from the fact that I didn’t even try.

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9 Comments »

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  1. Honestly, I wish I had some advice but I am coming up short. Each person’s journey through grief is so unique and individual it’s hard to say much. I lost my father 8 years ago and still miss him EVERY DAY. I just lost my grandma a few weeks ago and I still feel a bit numb to it, although I have my moments of overwhelming sorrow. It’s not easy but please reach out, continue therapy, and know that through others you can find strength.

  2. Oh Serenity, it is hard to let go…because in doing so, we truly acknowledge that they are gone. As for your cousin, all I can say is that yo were young, you didn’t know better, you didn’t know what a truly scared/sad/alone person could do, and your cousin wouldn’t want you spending the rest of your life feeling guilty. I have had a hard time reaching out to my poppop after my grandmom died this past June. Seeing him alone and being in their house where she is overwhelmingly present is difficult. I think the pain never goes away. You just learn to live with it.

  3. Not having been able to change anything may not abdicate you from not even trying – but consider this: You were, what, 18 years old??? You were probably the most mature 18 year old on the planet – or so you thought – but go hang out in a Freshman dorm for an hour and get a glimpse of your average 18 year old and consider whether they’ve got the life experience, emotional maturity and fortitude to recognize a true call for help and to make a difference. The truth is that very few of them will make the grade. If you inability to change the events doesn’t abdicate you, your age and your life experience surely should.

    Letting go is very difficult. But you’re also very hard on yourself. You’re expecting to be over Judy’s death already – but in the timeline of your life, it really *just* happened. Give it time. Yes, in time you’ll need to and want to forge a new relationship with your uncle. But that doesn’t mean it has to be today. And it doesn’t mean that keeping your distance right now makes you a bad person. It means you’re working on taking care of you.

    You have a lot going on – a vroombunctious three year old, a job you hate, IVF hell, a vroombunctious three year old (yes, I said that twice on purpose… three year olds steal a LOT of your mental energy), etc. You don’t have to be your uncle’s “rock”. Not yet. With time, you’ll find a way to build a new kind of relationship with him, but it doesn’t have to be tomorrow.

    As Brandy said, it’s not easy. But she’s right – continue to reach out, push forward with therapy, and remember that we’re all here to help you find the inner strength you’re reaching for.

  4. i wish i had some good advice, something comforting to say, but i can tell you that i’m reaching out all the way from little orem, utah. i know how hard it can be to reach out to others, but hopefully you are surrounded by those who will reach out to you.

  5. I am not sure if you saw this article on grief when it came out (or if I posted a link here before) but I found it insightful:
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2042372,00.html

    Speaking from experience, I have found that the only way to begin to heal from the loss of a loved one, is to move through the grief. Otherwise, it festers and shows up in ones life in devastating ways.

    Sending you a warm embrace from afar.

  6. Letting go is very difficult and takes time under any circumstances.

    Little steps, Serenity. Little steps.

    Bea

  7. If it were so simple to accept and let go such horrible things, therapists would not have their own thriving industry. Just saying…

    Continuing to be with you as you face both past and present demons.

  8. I’m hurting right there with you, and I haven’t lost nearly as much as you have lately. I think part of letting go is accepting who you are and how you handle things. A therapist may help you work through your losses more efficiently, but it’s important not to beat yourself up for the way you cope. *Hugs*.

    Oh, and I’m here if you want to chat, go out for coffee or something stronger, hang out with the kids, etc.

  9. soemtimes just knowing what you are NOT doing , is the best way to start doing something. We have all been where you are, STUCK..wondering and you only get out of that in your time, in your way.

    I’m not going to tell you that you couldn’t have done anything, YOU KNOW THAT. I’m not going to tell you that we all feel that the people in our lives will be there forever, YOU KNOW THAT.

    I will tell you that I am sorry your heart is hurting, I am sorry you have guilt resentment and fear over all of it and I can offer my support for whatever you need…beacause I can be here for you, even in spirit (like you were for Amy) and that is , most days, enough. *HUGS*


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