Today is our wedding anniversary. 19 years ago, Greg and I were married and sealed for time and all eternity. Today has been hard, but not in the way one might imagine it would be hard. My grief is so complicated and confusing.
This morning my intention for the day was to treat it like any other day. I was going to just not mention it and not think about it. But that didn’t work very well. I feel very sad today, but not because Greg isn’t here. I’m sad that I’m angry with him. I’m heartbroken that I have a very good reason to be angry. Today is hard because I’m angry, sad, and confused. I don’t want to look back on my wedding day with fondness and reminisce. I just want today to not exist. But it does.
If Greg were here, I don’t know if we would be celebrating our anniversary together. That is painful to think about. As I have said before, things were messy. And then Greg died. That changed everything. I went from being angry with him and trying to sort out so many things in my mind to being so incredibly sad and grief stricken. I had to stop being angry for a while and try to make sense of my new life. I had to feel the emotions of losing my husband and help my kids with their feelings.
I still have so much work to do as far as my grief, but I have realized that I have to also return to the anger, and now I am back to trying to sort things out. I have rewinded back to where I was before Greg died. I still have to go there. I still have to sort it out. I can’t just brush over it.
When someone dies, we naturally want to remember the positive things about them. We want to be able to talk about them in a positive light. However, we are all human, and we all have both positive and negative qualities. When someone leaves this earth, there is a social pressure to put them on a pedestal. Socially, it feels taboo to say negative things about someone who has passed away. I have learned in some incredibly painful ways that my seeing Greg’s flaws is not appreciated by everyone.
I hope that when I die, people will have some good things to say about me. I also hope that they can talk about my humanness. I don’t want to be on a pedestal. I also want my kids to see Greg as human and not put him up on a pedestal. He was a human being who had some great qualities and some not so great qualities. He is someone who we love and had some great times with, but he is also someone who caused some pain that we all have to work through. It is very unhealthy to try to bury that pain with Greg. It is unhealthy for us to put him on a pedestal.
What is healthy is for us to be real about our emotions, as confusing as they may be. I am sure we all say things that are shocking sometimes. I have given my kids permission to talk about their difficult feelings, and sometimes they take that outside of our house. I do too. My therapist told me to say, and to teach my kids to say, “You don’t know what it was like to live in my house,” if we accidentally shock someone. It’s true. No one else knows what it was like to live in our house. No one else knows the same Greg that the kids and I know. No one can fairly judge me or my kids for our perspectives and feelings.
I have hesitated to share how complicated my grief is because it doesn’t pedestalize Greg, and because I have been hurt by being open about it. But I have never heard anyone talk about how complicated grief can be, and maybe it’s time we talk about it. I know I’m not alone.
I don’t know what the rest of today looks like. I don’t have any fabulous ideas to make today feel less confusing. Maybe I just need to wait for tomorrow and hope that next May 15 is a little less confusing and complicated.