Last night was another bereavement workshop. The focus of it was how to move on from the loss of a loved one. The speaker said some things I was glad to hear, although I didn't need to.
You may recall a while ago that I was feeling guilt for doing so well. I thought maybe something was wrong with me. What did it mean? Did it mean I didn't care about Billy Jo? Did it mean that I was somehow putting up a defense mechanism and therefore delaying a shitstorm in doing so? Or did it simply mean that after years and years of grieving I was just strong and able enough to start right up on her wish for me after she had died... to be happy?
After much thought, I chose the last one as the correct answer and from that point forward I have not felt guilty about how well I'm doing. In fact, I am thrilled with how well I am doing. I am living life. One thing mentioned (either by the speaker or in one of the handouts) put it very well - just because you aren't hurting doesn't mean you don't love or care about that person. It means you have accepted that there is absolutely nothing you can do to bring that person back and that your relationship is still there, just different. There is a Buddhist saying I have really taken to as my "thing"...my life motto now:
I can spend my life miserable, depressed, and worrying about Billy Jo being gone, but it won't change a thing. It won't bring her back, and it would rob me of precious days/weeks/months/years of life. No way would she want me to do that. To be honest, no way do I want to do that. Unneeded pain does not mean I love her more, it means I hurt more.
A little over halfway through the evening they had us do an exercise. We were to write a letter to our departed loved one. Now, I write A LOT about what has been happening, how I am feeling, etc, but aside from a sentence every once in awhile, either on her Facebook wall or talking out loud around the house, I had not written to her. I sat down and began to write. It was more difficult than I thought it would be, but once I began to write I kept going. I was one of the last ones done.
Even though I feel I am doing well, this exercise was very very good. It was something I had not thought of previously and something I am glad I did. When we were done, we went outside, where the letters we just wrote were burned. If you didn't feel comfortable doing so, you didn't have to. Some people took copies and burned those. Some weren't ready to write anything. The wonderful thing about these groups is there is no pressure to do anything you don't want to. Anyway, back to the burning. The symbolic nature of this was two-fold. First, the smoke carries the letter to our loved ones in heaven. Second, there is nothing more freeing or releasing than saying whatever it was you needed to say, whether it be to forgive, to ask for forgiveness, to be angry, to be sad, to be happy - whatever it was, the burning of the letter meant you voluntarily let go.
I have a habit of either writing or talking too much, so of course I wrote three pages. I decided to take a picture of one and share it. Yes, privacy is expected at these groups and I honor that, but there's nothing stopping me from sharing what I wrote. Hell, those of you reading this blog know so much anyway that I feel honored and obligated to share. You've been with me on this journey, why stop now? Again, this is just one of the letters. The other two can stay between me, Billy Jo, and the smoke and ashes :)
I felt very good after this exercise. It was something I needed to do that I didn't know I needed to do. For those of you dealing with grief, it may be an exercise you want to try as well. Just don't burn your house down :)
Today is three months since Billy Jo passed away. Sometimes it feels like much longer than that. I'm okay with that feeling. It is much better than having it feel like it was yesterday.
That's it for now. Hug your loved ones and live your lives like Billy Jo would kick your ass if you didn't. Remember, she lived 22 days without water and 29 or so without food. She was tough as nails. You don't want to fuck with her :)