Keeping Memories – Forgiving Grief
Longing, loss, feeling lost and drowning in grief are some of the hardest feelings to work with. The following powerful quote by John Green, from his novel, “The Fault of Our Stars”, is a throat-strangling statement of absolute truth.
“The pleasure of remembering had been taken from me, because there was no longer anyone to remember with. It felt like losing your co-rememberer, which meant losing the memory itself, as if the things we’d done were now less real and important than they had been just hours before.”
Like many others, I lost my entire birth family before the age of 45. Occasionally I still feel a gripping twinge of grief for my family – they were such amazing co-creators of my memories. But eventually it became very important to forgive them for leaving me alone as their “Keeper of Memories”.
Longing, Loss, Grief
Forgiving a loss or experiencing grief is not simply about the death of an individual, it is about the end of anything important to a person. It is feeling the loss of a lost recipe from your grandmother or a job opportunity that fell through. Grief cannot simply be “cured” or “gotten over”. Every moment of grief must be felt, lived, and grappled with as you smack it down and watch it suddenly bounce back up and tear your heart to pieces anew.
In society, we subliminally learn to deny grief because we are taught to simply “get over it”. As if it were a simple, unimportant hindrance. Brene Brown says loss creates a type of “yearning for wholeness, understanding, meaning, and opportunity to regain or simply touch what we’ve lost”. When we freeze ourselves within a certain time-frame to avoid grief, nothing is normal.
The experience of grief, or more directly the actually effect of grief, mandates us to reorient ourselves to a new physical and emotional level. Grief is equally felt with both the loss of people or things that are very important to us. Grief causes the temporary illusion of a “loss of sanity” similar to the shock of being told you are terminally ill. You forget how to behave, where to park your car, and begin to simply stare at words without knowing their meaning. Feeling, forgiving and releasing the feelings are extremely uncomfortable, but they are the only cure.
The New “F” Word
Forgiveness is currently a prominent “f” word in society. Humans tend to fear being ridiculed about how much they hurt, grieve and feel lost. They remain silent, grit their teeth and stuff their emotional pain. Forgiveness, in truth is quite simple. It is the release and physical/emotional death of grief and loss. Forgiveness is not about condoning any action. It is about choosing to finally “let go” of what is damaging us. We will then automatically pull ourselves out of grief strangle-hold of grief.
When we allow ourselves to heal within our personal time-frame and forgive ourselves and others, we allow our “memory-keeping” to morph into a powerful form of “self-healing”. Forgive those who have passed, the boss that didn’t give you a well-deserved promotion, your husband for watching football every Sunday, and your hairdresser for the stupid “doo” she gave you just before a wedding. This allows you to learn and practice being vulnerable.
Here is a poignant, exceptionally “in your face” quote by C.S. Lewis.
“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.