Knowing about the five stages of grief may not make things any better or easier. In fact, the cycle can turn into a “comfort zone” for one who is not aware that there is a better way to deal with grief.
Grief from relationship breakups or losing a loved one may be on a different level but nonetheless can be as equally devastating. The sadness comes in waves and each time seems to feel as intense as the previous episodes. When will this end? you ask.
Well, it ends when you stop reminiscing about the past and start focusing on the present. That is the paradox of moving on.
Losing my mother has been a tough one. Almost daily, I think about her and I cry. So many things left unsaid, so many things left undone. What if’s and what could have been’s are aggravating the torment. The “ball in the box” analogy is not really helping. There is no box; there is no ball; there is no pain button.
Imagine your life is a box and the grief you feel is a ball inside of the box. Also inside the box is a pain button.
As far as I can describe my anguish is that there is no objective representation of how I feel. It’s all dark, vacuum, spacey; Invisible threads of loneliness that wound around my heart. The feeling neither grows nor shrinks; neither expands nor contracts. It’s just there, stuck in my memory like a gargantuan black hole that has the ability to suck me in yet cannot be fathomed.
You see, there are aches that cannot be simply visualized, let alone verbalize, like the pain of childbirth or a toothache.
“How can the past and future be, when the past no longer is, and the future is not yet? As for the present, if it were always present and never moved on to become the past, it would not be time, but eternity.”
― St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
The other day, I got the chance to read the book by Henri Boulad: All is Grace, God and the Mystery of Time. It’s from my late sister’s book collection. It helped me understand where I am in my non-linear grief. It made me realize how stuck I am, reliving the grief over and over again, almost obsessively. I was developing a habit that was unhealthy. The thoughts were taking up too much space in my brain. They were consuming my energy and keeping me shackled with events that have been consummated. My thoughts were in a three-dimensional space, while my reality moved one-dimensionally.
Yes, past. A part of me stayed in the past in an attempt to take refuge in the memories of my mother. Snapshots after snapshots of events that took place and after wits of how the course of events could have been altered, swirled in my brain. But the past is no more. What’s real is now. It is the basis of what is to come.
If happiness and healing are the goals, the cure is not in the past that has already ceased to exist. The present holds the potential for change, improvement, and greatness. The past brings lessons, while the present must reap the reward of those lessons. To live in the past is to stop learning, living and evolving.
Living in the past is rejecting the promise of renewal and getting another shot at happiness. Doing so could be more convenient as it is more familiar. But that is not the way to go.