I grieve a lot. I began attending funerals when I was 12 years old. I knew and cared about a lot of old people. Grief for the loss of a person seems normal and a shared experience. More recently I’ve encountered a different kind of grief. A grief for the loss of the past. This kind of grief is different than what happens when we lose a valued object, or someone we care about passes away. This grief is a response to the end of a particular time. That includes the cumulative sense memory of the relationships, places, and emotions associated with that particular time. That’s a lot to process.
Grief is a function of connection – more specifically the desire to maintain a connection that is not physically possible anymore. When a loss occurs, a person, place, thing, or memory of a time, can all function the same way emotionally depending on the strength of the connection. Here’s the rub I’ve recently noticed: grieving for the memory of a time can make us delay whatever is supposed to come next. We hold on to the old context for so long that new opportunities, new responsibilities, new growth doesn’t actually happen. Or happens through struggle, rather than through strength.
How do we fix this? I need to look straight in the eye of the thing I’m holding on to, and tell the truth. The past is gone. That time and place cannot be remade. I’m thankful that most of my memories are good (that’s mainly why I miss them). But now there is something new that I’m specifically designed to be doing. There is work to be done – there is Love that needs giving and receiving. And, there really isn’t a lot of time. So what am I doing holding on to the past?