Mental Health  
 June 14, 2021

Hold on to the love, not the loss

Originally posted on New Beginnings

Hold on to love, not loss

It’s been an emotional time in my life. A lot of things going on, some good and others less enjoyable to say the least. In the midst of this, my first born is turning 16 years old soon. As her Sweet 16 approaches, she’s also been asked to baptize a baby girl who happens to be my niece from my mother’s side of the family. In the Greek Orthodox religion this is a huge holy event and a huge honor to be a part of.  I’m incredibly proud of the young woman my daughter has become and these back-to-back events are very profound to me.

These milestones and joyous occasions bring up a lot of emotion and for anyone who’s lost a loved one you understand what I mean when I say the moments are bittersweet because you wish the person that you lost could witness and share these experiences with you. Sometimes no inspiring philosophy can make you feel that better.

I’ve lost pivotal people in my life;  my mother, my grandmother, my uncle.  Each one took a piece of my heart that I won’t get back.  Each loss has left me a changed person from that other person I was before. My mother’s loss is especially difficult because I wish she had an easier life to begin with but more than that, I wish she could have lived to see the fruits of all her sacrifices in raising her two daughters. Sometimes bad things happen to good people and it’s really not fair and difficult to make sense of.

When you’re missing or longing for a person the reality of is is that it feels awful. The person you love is gone and it hurts. Time doesn’t make it better, it just makes it different, and in some ways, worse. The loss will always be there and it creeps it’s head often.  During regular moments like when you’re loading the dishwasher after supper. During trying times and struggles, where the loss and longing is an addition to whatever you’re already facing and you miss that person being there for you. And, during meaningful experiences, like for example, me, preparing for my daughter’s events.

We all go through these feelings of being saddened or depressed. They come in waves, sometimes when we don’t expect it, and they dampen our spirits. I think it’s important to accept them and experience them. They are valid emotions and warrant acknowledgment. I miss the support and love I received from these people who have left and I’m not happy with the way they went; I miss my grandmother; I wish my uncle had an easier death; I wish my mom didn’t die so early; I wish she could have seen me mature from that crazy hothead I was into the woman I am today; I wish she could have seen me graduate, get engaged and walk down the aisle, have a career and be a good contributor to society; I wish she could have met my three kids and be a part of their lives and all their life milestones; I wish she had an easier life and could have retired happy witnessing all that she made possible through her sacrifices; I wish she were here for me for advice and as I go through my own personal struggles.

As the waves come, I allow the tears to fall from my eyes.  Sometimes I even drown in them.  But after a while I ask myself, what would she want for me? How would she want me to be? What would my grandmother and uncle want for me and how would they want me to be? How would they be in this circumstance? In fact.. weren’t they all in similar circumstances during different times in their own lives? And these questions sober me and bring me back to the present. Because they would want me to be happy and they would want me to live and soar no matter what the circumstances were.

Some of our loved ones go earlier and others later. Some will suffer more or less than others. The loss part of it is different but the love part of it is the same and why focus on the loss and how things would have or could have been, it’s not serving any purpose other than to keep us sad.  We can’t control the circumstances of the loss but we can control how it changes us. We can leave it leave us bitter, or sad, depressed or disconnected. Or, we can use it to make us better, wiser, more understanding and more grateful people. We can choose to focus on the loss, on how it hurts or was unfair and how our beloved suffered terribly. Or, we can choose to focus on the love that person gave us, on the impact they had on our lives and feel fortunate that that gift was given to us for a precious amount of finite time. Then, we can strive to be that loving and positive person for others in our life and pass that gift of love forward.

So, the day of the baptism came around and we all gathered around in anticipation of the beautiful event.  I was nervous for my daughter hoping it would all go smoothly (Greek baptisms can be a little daunting but that’s another story). I was feeling very sentimental and emotional. As it began to take place I felt the salty tears well up in my eyes and as the waves came I let the emotions flow out.

I stood there as a proud mama. So happy to be a part of my cousin’s baby’s holy event. I stood there as a proud daughter representing my mom. The love that she gave me is embedded in who I am and I carry that with me everywhere I go without even realizing it. So a part of her is here, through me, always. I stood there as a proud granddaughter and a proud niece in memory of my beloved grandmother and uncle who were huge influences in all of our lives and who helped shape me into the person I am today. Me, and all of my family standing in that church. I chose to believe that all three of them were there that day, in spirit, and though all of us.

We have to remember and accept that nothing lasts forever in this life and one day we will have to say goodbye to everyone we know. You lose the person but once you truly and deeply love someone, you can’t lose the love. All we can do is live and carry it with us.  Hold on to the love, not the loss.