So, I have been told that my writing is very sad. Huh. Really? It’s a little hard to make writing about a dead guy a ton of laughs. Although, in our family, we do laugh about the tragedies of life every chance we get – because that is a big part of the way that that we have survived.
Guess what? Death sucks. It is really hard and really sad – and not just right when the person dies or for a few month or even a few years after. It is always sad. And hard. Always. Life goes on, life gets easier, the loss is more manageable – that’s all true. But it is never not sad, it is never easy. How could it be? In our case, my husband died; the man that I had been with for 14 years and had three children with. Dead and gone in an instant. Three children lost their father – dead and gone in an instant. Parents lost a son, a sister lost a brother, friends lost a friend. He’s never coming back – that hole is never going to be filled. It changes, it looks different as the years go on; that hole becomes smaller and a little less transparent – but it’s never repaired. And those three children continue to re-grieve that loss for their ENTIRE LIVES as each one reaches a new developmental milestone and comes upon events that their dad should be there for. Yup – it’s really good times.
Your writing is so sad.
That is part of the problem that we face as a society. It is not ok to be sad. Being sad, depressed, unhappy, apparently makes people feel very uncomfortable. From the very beginning of our Lifetime Made For TV Movie saga, people have been telling me to move on, get over it, smile, take my mind off it, stop focusing on it, don’t think about it, focus on the good things in our lives, and be happy. Hell, even my oldest daughter, the 6 year old eternal optimist that she was at the time, got in on the act on the very day Steve died. She looked up at me that afternoon at one point and said, “At least he won’t be upset about the smell of pot stickers cooking in the kitchen anymore.” That was a pretty true statement – the girls and I loved pot stickers. Steve? Not so much and certain smells drove him mad. We still laugh about her statement that day. I am not against looking for the silver linings in life. I try really hard to do that whenever possible and I encourage my children to do the same. I am a wicked happy person, generally speaking, and am very well known for my drop dead good looks and sparkling smile 🙂 But that doesn’t mean that I am not sad when it comes to the many loses that I have endured in my life. It is “Both/And”, as my amazing friend Dani tells me. She is a therapist and is often telling me about situations and emotions in life being “Both/And.” You are allowed to be happy and sad at the same time. You are allowed to be sad about something and still accept the blessings that have come out of it. You can be angry at someone and still adore them. You can be in love with someone and still manage other aspects of your life that seem difficult to manage with this new relationship. Most things in life actually are Both/And. And the more that I have accepted that “Both/And” in my life, the more ok I have been with my emptions. It is important to be hopeful and it is crucial to live with intention and happiness
My problem is this: It is just as important to be sad and to live with grief and hard emotions. Not to live IN them but to live WITH them, cozy up to them and really get to know them. It is so very important to be honest about all of your feelings and to not push things under the rug because they are making you or your sister or your mother or your friends uncomfortable. These huge experiences that create sadness in our lives make up a part of who we are. Each of us has experienced loss in some form or another: death, divorce, job loss, moving, health issues, childhood trauma. None of us are immune. And if we pretend that these huge things are in fact really small, we are diluting their value in our core makeup and therefor, not really being honest with ourselves or the world about WHO WE REALLY ARE.
Then what happens? Our experiences and behaviors shape how society deals with these huge issues. So when your co-worker Johnny’s mom dies, no one thinks it is a big deal and they wonder if he really needs that three days off work that is holding up a project. When Jane’s husband dies, friends are wondering why she isn’t back to her old self a month or two later. Why isn’t she dating? Why is she still so down? Wow, she’s really depressing to be around. Yes, you bet your ass she is.
I am not sad all the time. In fact, I am rarely sad these days – especially related to my husband’s death. I am not outwardly upset about it, except maybe on the big anniversaries and important days, and even those have become so much easier to handle. But if I am going to throw myself into writing about our experiences around death and loss – it’s going to be sad. Suck it up buttercup. This is honest. This is real. Life is really fucking hard and if you have not yet had to walk thru fire and come out throwing fists on the other side –hold on to your hat. It will come. And when it does – be honest about it and feel it all. You are not doing anyone any favors by stuffing it down and hiding it – most especially you. You have to honor every bit of that loss and that relationship – the good, the bad and the ugly. And it is our job to teach society about what it really means to lose a loved one and handle a tragedy – the ways of the past have not served us well. And as I have said a hundred times – if you don’t deal with it when you need to, it will come back to bite you in the ass when you are least expecting it. And you have no way of knowing how that is going to present and what else – or who else – it is going to hurt in the process. It will be a huge shit show – trust me on this.