I have been thinking a lot this year about the duality of emotions that exist in most experiences, even as we often fight to characterize the experience as one thing - good or bad. We are taught that we must quickly move to overcome the bad emotions, and find those silver linings.
What if we need to embrace the so called “bad emotions” to experience the fullness of life and live life whole?
Last March, the pre work for a writing course on grief I did was to finish the sentence “I am taking this course on writing my grief but I am not going to write about...”
This is what I wrote:
“In thinking about this topic, my mind went to every corner of my consciousness to dig up the pieces that are not relevant to my grief. But every thing I found is relevant. Even in the jumbled mess of my mind. Even in the unwanted thoughts and interactions and people that interrupt this sacred place in my grief.
My grief is in every aspect of my life. My past, my future, my now. Because Jasper is there. Everything in my life before and after is for him or because of him or brought me to him. It brought me to this place without him and also with him in a way I never wanted.
There are things I wish I could write about but can’t because I can’t remember or I don’t know. I can’t remember what his skin and hair felt like, no matter how much I drag my finger across pictures of him. I don’t know what his little butt looks like because I didn’t think to look in those few moments with him. That feels like such a failing and so important now.
I have many incoherent thoughts that sometimes writing is hard because I can’t position the words in neat and organized ways.”
Reading this a year later, I see the purpose in this exercise.
To be able to face my grief on paper (and in life), I needed to understand that grief cannot be compartmentalize, and it is not neat and organized.
That is because grief is not simply one emotion.
It can be anything, in everything, and everywhere. When I am overwhelmed in happiness, I can also consumed by grief.
And so, grief cannot simply be overcome - that wasn’t ever possible.
I am also realizing, as I process my guilt in Jasper’s life, that in a whole life you have a spectrum of experiences that bring joy (though happiness, comfort, relief, and connection) and also grief (through fear, sadness, anger, pain). I could not protect Jasper from the “bad” things because he lived a whole life.
Too damn short, but whole.
And so there is joy and grief for my whole life. They both exist and they are both welcomed now; I will not reject either, because now I know to embrace living my life whole.
PS: I am still obsessed with Jasper’s butt.