By Sonika Tinker, MSW
A friend of ours lost her military son to suicide a few years ago. She shared her grief process with many of us through both story and song. Through exposed vulnerability, she expressed the deep raw emotions of anger, sadness and love. One of the songs she sang brought tears to my eyes. “Help me let go just a little bit, just a little bit – more.”
Letting go is one of the hardest things for us to do as human beings. Especially when it comes to those we love. Whether it is through death, divorce or the inevitability of life’s changes as our bodies get older and our children leave home, there is grief for love lost.
I know that pain, that grief. I felt it when my son left home. I feel it now as my youngest graduates from 8th grade. I was aware yesterday, that it was the last day I would drive my daughter to that school after doing so and being part of that community for some twelve years. Change. Death. Rebirth. It is forever in the air.
I once heard grief defined as “deep love and appreciation for that which is no more”; or as Christian likes to say, “appreciation in reverse”.
When I asked my Enneagram professor, David Daniels, whose son was mysteriously murdered in another country in his early twenties, how he coped with the pain, he said, “I figured I could be angry for the years I missed or grateful for the years I had.”
Gratitude and appreciation for the gifts we DID receive from our relationships seems to ease our heartache, at least a little bit. Just today I did a session with a woman who was, for the first time, able to see the gifts she received from her depressed, suicidal, often absent mother. Instead of focusing only on where her mother fell short, she was able to see the deep love her mother DID have for her, and the resulting benefits of her strength, independence and competence to rise herself to an improved life. Anger was replaced with love, and sadness for all that was missing or lost was replaced with appreciation for what was given.
It is hard to let go of our anger, sadness and hurt. It keeps us strangely connected to those we love. If we really let go, after all, we believe we might make it okay that they are gone and lose touch with them forever.
But letting go and stepping fully into appreciation for what was and what is, ultimately frees up our heart to love as deeply as it wants to, as deeply as it already does. There, in that sweet, deep space of eternal love, we find the place where we all are truly connected forever.
So let us sing together, “Help me let go, Help me let go, Help me let go – just a little bit, just a little bit, more”.