Laughing, Weeping, Living

Life happens. You laugh about it or cry about it, sometimes both.

Reflection: Moving On

on March 12, 2014

I’ve always been pretty good about moving from one phase of my life to another. I am easily able to tidy up, say goodbye, and close the door on one phase, then quickly turn my attention and energy to getting settled in the new phase. Graduating from high school was easy. A few parties, exchange email addresses, pack for college, great new phase of my life. Finishing college was not as easy, but still manageable. More sadness was involved with parting from stronger friendships. But in the end it was not too difficult to look ahead and turn my attention to the new phase of grad school. Finishing grad school and moving to Montana was hard. I had to part with more great friends and leave a place I liked quite a lot. But here again, it was pretty easy to move on. Moving from Montana to New Mexico. Really hard. Less manageable and I’m still processing that. Moving from New Mexico to Ohio. Hard but because there was so much involved in that decision, there was not really time for anything but a quick transition.

I will be the first person in a long line of people to say that I am horrible at maintaining friendships over these “phase breaks.” It’s wrapped up in my strategy to move beyond a sad situation and focus on the future. I was able to overcome sadness with each transition because I could mentally and emotionally pack up everything associated with the former life and put it away. I miss the people I’ve left behind and I wish I was better at keeping in touch, but on the other hand I’m glad I am able to put away the past and not let it get in the way of my current life. The people I have managed to keep up with, I truly enjoy our friendships! So I don’t know why I can’t do that with everyone. As an aside, if I’ve lost track of you it’s not because I don’t like you! I’m sure I would love to catch up. I will work on improving my nature. I’m not describing anything unhealthy here, at least I don’t think so. I have just learned that it’s pointless to dwell on the past and feel sad  or regretful about events that have already happened.

Anyway, so, all those transitions I’ve described above are about moving from place to place and shifting life stages. Moving on after the death of Agnes has been both similar and different for me. On the one hand, I feel like it’s been pretty easy to do things and live life normally and give my attention to other people and tasks. On the other hand, weird triggers still reduce me to tears. I’m not surprised and before anyone says it, I’m not being too hard on myself. I’m not upset or frustrated with myself that I cry, I’m only surprised that it doesn’t happen more. Why aren’t I a perpetually tear-damp wreck barely two months after the death of my baby? Because that’s not how I process transitions, that’s why. I take care of all the feelings then set the whole business aside so I can focus on what’s next. If there are any lingering emotions, they are usually not debilitating and I can deal with them while I carry on. My lingering feelings about Agnes are debilitating. They knock me out no matter when or where they strike. It’s different for me. I don’t necessarily mind one way or another.

I think the most helpful thing someone has said to me is, “you don’t get over it, you get used to it.” Sometimes I feel like I am becoming used to Agnes being gone, but then suddenly it is a fresh wound again. I can laugh with friends over coffee in the church basement after liturgy, and a mere two hours later I will be sobbing in the car because I drove past an ambulance. I can be totally focused on the symphony chorus rehearsal, and suddenly the director will tell an anecdote with the name “Agnes” in it and I can’t sing for ten minutes.

My grief process and “moving on” is uneven which is a new experience for me, but I expect someday I will get used to it.

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