Sunday, November 18, 2007

Letting Go

As my grief journey progressed, I came to realize that the end, the destination if you like, of this journey was to be at peace. Asking questions like "why did my wife die at 32 years of age, leaving me with a 2-year old son?" resulted in nothing but more fruitless questions. But we, as humans, are questioning beings. The secret seemed to lie in changing the nature of the questions — rather than "why?" I started asking "how" questions. How could I be at peace with her sickness and death? How could I be OK with everything that had happened? How could I get on with the business of living? How could I heal?

And an even more powerful line of questioning began with "what." In the throes of the waves of grief that washed over me, I clung like a shipwrecked survivor to a single powerful plank: "What could I do right now to help me be more at peace?" The answer to that question lay more often than not in the simple things: listen to peaceful music; light a candle; sit quietly on the couch; light some incense or smell some essential oils; get into some comfortable clothes. Asking what I could do at this moment to be at peace almost always led me to my 5 senses, and I did find some solace there. I had read that it is important for grievers to live in the present, and focusing on my five senses helped to ground myself in the present, if only for a moment. I was glad that I had found some readily-accessible shelter from the storms lashing at me. I took that shelter until I could venture out a little further down the road.

I have learned much from reading books about grieving, and one I highly recommend is called How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies. It was in reading this book that I finally understood what grieving is: the freeing up of the emotional energy associated with my past life as a married person. All that emotional investment had to be let go and released so that I could get on with life. The tricky part, especially for a guy, was twofold: one, how did I get a handle on my emotions, and two, how did I release them?

No comments: