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Reclaiming Love and Hope in My Grief

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I’m driving on my way home from a work meeting listening to my favorite music, and I’m singing along. The sun is out, traffic is light, it’s been a stress-free day with not much on my mind other than the current lyrics and whats for dinner. When out of nowhere…I’m singing and without warning I suddenly choke, I can’t get the words out, a lump has formed in my throat, and I can’t swallow. My vision gets blurred as my eyes swell with tears, and I stop singing…hello, grief.

I realize my life has changed dramatically since my grandson Konnor died. I hate using the word “died” but what else is there to say? “Passed,” “expired,” “left us”? The terminology doesn’t fit how we feel. Funny how in that sentence I fight to leave it at just that. Words don’t fit. Anyway, I’m getting off the point here. I want to try and move forward in my process of living a productive, joyful life in peace and mindfulness. I am not sure if these episodes of spontaneous grief are showing me I am ready to move forward just yet. But I want to. I really do.

My thoughts have been directed to contemplating whether I am ready to seek out a relationship. I have been single for many years, and I want to believe I am ready. I want a hand to hold, a warm body to hug, yet I have moments like those I just described that push me to believe now is not the perfect time. I have not healed enough, I may be too much too handle. I may be too unstable.

Can you follow me on this? I’m on a first date and I am smiling nervously at him while we are getting to know each other, and he is desperately trying to get to know me. I am trying to be bright, amusing, classy, and suddenly out of nowhere, I begin to cry. Not a deal-breaker there, right? No, not at all.

I’m sure there is understanding, but not everyone wants to deal with what some may determine as “emotional baggage.” Perhaps unless I happen to date a widower. Although I am not certain if this would be an entirely healthy relationship for me either.

These episodes do not happen often, yet they do happen often enough where they affect who I am and do tend to make me a moody person. I tend to get quiet, I want to have my space and I can get cranky. How would this fit into a profile on a dating website?

*Middle-aged moody and sometimes agitated woman seeks man who doesn’t mind spending time going for long walks, vacations and such. Watch for emotional lability and frequent disappearances.*

Yeah, I can see them lining up at the door right now.

How do we know when to begin re-entering aspects of life, especially something so sensitive as dating? Can we open our broken hearts and begin to love another? Is intimacy possible with a mind so crowded with tragic thoughts both real and imagined? Let me explain this — those of us who have suffered a huge loss cannot simply put our heads to the pillow at night and rest. The moment we place our heads on that pillow, our wounded hearts can play tricks on our minds. Horrible thoughts can race through our minds, both real and imagined. This is something I feel I have no control over. I do not sleep. So I must ask the question, do I set myself up for failure as I venture into the dating world?

In my search for answers I turned to Google. Not surprised I found mostly posts on widows or widowers returning to find love after the loss of a spouse. Not much on those of us grieving the loss of a grandchild or child, but in relation to myself I did find something interesting. A post called “New Relationships and Dating After Loss” by Amanda McPherson. Essentially what she said was this — ask yourself what is driving your desire for a relationship to ensure your readiness. Is it because you’re lonely? For me, no, I am never lonely; in fact, I am comfortable spending time alone. She asked who were you before and who are you now? This is compelling. My whole being has changed with Konnor’s death. My soul had screamed in rage and pain. It was as if my body’s molecular makeup burst into the air when I was told of Konnor’s death. In that single instant he left this earth, something within me snapped and changed my entire being. Once those molecules drifted back inside my body, they were damaged, misshapen; my sense of self was changed. Still my soul within me weeps. Lastly she asks if you are reclaiming your sense of hope. This question drew an immediate response from deep inside myself. A feeling of warmth filled my chest. My heart screamed yes! yes! A thousand times yes! This statement truly made me realize that my tragically frail heart so severely damaged not only by Konnor’s sudden death but also the events surrounding it with my family was open again to hope. For me to begin to feel there is the slightest chance of hope for love is a gift, the gift of life. A new beginning.

Hope is the very thing my soul had been yearning for, searching for and silently crying out for. Grief had so severely damaged my core that it had buried not only my joy and my faith but most of all my hope. I had not realized I had lost it until I had I felt myself reclaiming it. Strange how coming out of the darkness of grief works. One fellow griever refers to it as “coming alive again.” How accurate a description!

Wanting to be in love and be in a relationship is evident I have found my hope. I am willing to open up and give of my shattered heart because I know that love is a beautiful feeling and it is safe, secure and true. Thinking about relationships and love is a step in the right direction for me in reclaiming my life that has been long affected by grief and sadness. Love and hope is the only way out of that for me. Konnor taught me that.

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Thinkstock image by jakkapan21

Originally published: July 25, 2017
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