Recently Other Half asked me why I go weeks without writing. Without thinking I responded, “Because I’m sad.” My response surprised him. It also surprised me.
For the most part, my life is pretty great. We live in a Big Rig with all the amenities. We travel to beautiful places. We spend time with our family and friends all over the country. We laugh a lot. Most importantly, we have the gift of time.
So why was my immediate response, “Because I’m sad?”
When I responded, it was the first time I’d acknowledged my feelings out loud. In truth, it was the first time I’d acknowledged them to myself.
So what gives? Why am I sad?
I think my real problem is acceptance. I’ve always thought of myself as an accepting person. A person that – goes with the flow, rolls with the punches, doesn’t sweat the small stuff — and all other appropriate cliches.
What I’ve come to realize is that I am an accepting person – as long as what’s happening is what I want to accept – when it’s not – I’m a sad person.
If you know me, you know I lost my sister Mary last year. September 21, 2015 to be exact. I didn’t want to lose my sister. I didn’t want her four kids to live their lives without their Mom. I didn’t want her grandchildren to miss out on knowing her. I didn’t want her husband to find himself retired and alone.
I didn’t want the hole in my heart her passing left.
Here I am, months later, covertly struggling with sadness and resisting acceptance of our changed reality. I know I’m not alone in this struggle. There are many of us who loved her.
In a weird way, acknowledging my sadness is helping me. But it’s still hard to figure out where to put it. Intellectually I know Mary would want me, and all of us, to be happy. Sometimes that helps. Sometimes it doesn’t.
Obviously, there’s no changing what happened. The only option is to accept life as it is now.
When it comes to acceptance, no one lived it more genuinely than Mary. Many times she helped me find acceptance – even when that’s not what I wanted at the moment. I would call her and rant about whoever or whatever I was upset about. She would listen and then gently remind me, We’re all doing the best we can. It’s your job to love and accept them – just as they are.
It would take a couple days but eventually I’d come around and realize she was right – We are all doing the best we can.
Here’s the thing about sadness – it makes people uncomfortable. It shows up in unexpected ways and at inopportune times. When someone you care about is sad, it’s natural to want to cheer them up. I understand. I’ve been on both sides. It had been awhile since I’d experienced sadness this profound. This isn’t the kind of sadness you get cheered up from. I’m grieving. I thought I should be “done” by now, but not so much.
I want to apologize to anyone I’ve ever expected to “get on with life” after losing a loved one. I’m sorry for my insensitivity. I’m sorry for thinking an arbitrary amount of time was “enough.” I’m sorry for not recognizing the depth of your sadness. I’m sorry for being an idiot.
I get it now.
Grief and the sadness it brings have a powerful grip. There’s no getting over it. It changes you forever. I’m changed forever. Our family is changed forever. Acceptance is our only option. It’s the road back. I’m working on it. We’re all working on it.
We’re all doing the best we can.