Grief is like the ocean. I can’t think of a better way to describe it. It comes in waves, and the ups and downs are inevitable. At first, I felt like I was riding on top of the waves, inside the waves, and in the undertow. It felt kind of like whiplash. There was no way I could put my feet down and ground myself. I was at the mercy of the ocean. It was a very rough ride.
As time went on, the waves calmed enough that I could notice the patterns. When I started to notice that things felt okay and I was riding on top of a wave, I got anxious about it. It felt wrong. Wasn’t I supposed to be sad? Why was I okay? I must be doing something wrong. I felt guilt for feeling okay. This would quickly be followed by a plummet to what felt like the depths of the ocean. Things were suddenly most definitely not okay, and it happened so fast it felt like a slap in the face. I would then wonder why I couldn’t just enjoy it when things felt okay. This phenomenon has happened several times in the past almost 7 months.
More recently, things have started to feel okay, and this time, I wondered how it would be to be okay with it. I decided to just notice that things feel calm and accept it. This is easier said than done. I have found that it is common to feel guilty for being happy after losing a loved one. This is something I have had to work on quite a bit.
Greg had an anxious attachment style, which affected a lot of things in our relationship. He needed constant reassurances that he was loved and valued. Because of our dynamic, when Greg died, I felt duty bound to be devastated. I was naturally devastated, but I felt that Greg would want me to be sad, and especially in the beginning, I felt guilty for feeling anything other than sadness. I felt that he would want me to be miserable because it would show him that I cared about him and that he was important to me. I wanted to show him I cared.
As time has gone on, the guilt for feeling happiness has lessened, but it’s still there. I want to be happy, and I have a lot of reasons to be happy. I hope Greg wishes me happiness, and I don’t want to allow his insecurities to continue to affect my emotions. I’m working on that.
My therapist recently pointed out that you can feel happiness and sadness at the same time. You don’t have to be void of either one. Just because I’m sad sometimes doesn’t mean I have to ride to the bottom of a wave. I can just watch the wave and notice the emotion. Being mindful of the waves and letting all the emotions be present helps to keep the waves from taking me along for the ride. I have been working on this, and I feel that I have been in an ‘okay’ state for a couple weeks, which is a record. I’m sure I have so much more to learn on this journey, and lots more wave riding to do, but I’ll count this aha moment as a win. I’m not interested in riding on top of the waves anymore. I have some reasons to not be happy, but the truth is, I have so many more reasons to be happy. It’s okay to be happy.