Grief Gab #5 - Two Things At Once
Grief is a weird animal. I keep thinking about something our counselor says: “Grief is the form love takes when our loved one is gone.” But that form can look different for everyone and is constantly shifting. As I’ve discussed in other posts, it’s unpredictable - not just in when it shows up but in how it shows up. I may feel depressed, numb, empty, reminiscent or angry. Or...I may feel some of those things at the same time! Dum-dum-DUMMMMM!
The movie Inside Out is a brilliant movie from Pixar, most notably for the accuracy of the portrayal of the human brain and our emotions. If you’ve never seen the movie, it’s definitely worth watching. I’ll do my best not to spoil it for anyone. Suffice it to say that the personifications of emotions discover that it’s possible to feel two ways at once and it changes their perspective and their existence.
As I go through this grieving process, there are times when I look at a picture of Joni and I feel deep sadness, but also fondness and joy. I’ll miss her terribly and at the same time chuckle about something she did/said at the event which the photo was taken...or just the fact that she was the light of my life and I’m a better person for having spent the majority of my life to date with her.
How is that possible? Shouldn’t I feel just one thing at a time? Well...no. Er, I mean yes. Um, actually...sometimes? As humans, I think we get caught up on the word “should”. “I should feel this way or that way.” Yeah, but you don’t. That’s the reality: you feel what you feel. And it’s OK!! Whether it’s one emotion, two emotions, five emotions, or no emotion. Feelings are neither bad nor good - they’re simply messages from you to you about you. God made us to feel what we feel and gave us the ability to hold more than one feeling in our heads/hearts at a time. Wow!!
Juxtapose that with my relationship with Belinda. I love her. And at the same time, I still love Joni. I have the capacity to love two women at the same time. Now, in any other context, that statement would give most of my friends and family pause because of my beliefs. So imagine how hard it is for me to grasp and be OK with. But the reality is that I really do love two women and it’s OK. Is it conflicting? You better believe it. Do I feel torn? Absolutely. Adulterous? Occasionally. (And yes, I have to keep reminding myself that I’m not cheating on Joni.)
But when I was telling my pastor about seeing someone, he said: “Isn’t it amazing that God gives us the capacity to love more than one person at an equal level?” While it’s not a perfect analogy, I think of my love for my kids. When my first child was born, I felt immense love. Then my second child was born...and I felt the same immense love. Did it take away any of the love from Christi? Of course not! And then the third and fourth were born and they received the same level of love, care, and protection that their older siblings did. And so I’m getting used to loving both Joni and Belinda at the same time and accepting that it’s OK for my situation.
I have the capacity to carry two things seemingly at odds with each other at the same time. Whether it’s the complexities of grief, a child growing up, or the ability to love another person with the same degree of love you have for another. Huh. This thought is going to stick with me for a long time. Truly our brains are amazing things.
Thanks for reading.