Ch.207 Hanging On or Getting Through My Loss?

Ch.207 Hanging On or Getting Through My Loss?

June 2023

          “I choosy with the pain I feel,” Sarah said. “Some people pain is eternal. Some people worship they pain. Don’t know who they are without it. Hold on to it like they gon’ die if they let it go. I reckon some people want their pain to end, true. But most? It’s the thing that makes their heart work. And they want you to feel it beat.”

          This passage is from The Prophets, by Robert Jones, Jr. The speaker is a slave woman named Sarah, as she participates in a women’s healing circle ritual for two men who have been whipped and beaten almost to death by the plantation owner’s men.

          This passage has left me with a question. Which am I, someone hanging on to my pain and relishing the attention I receive when I “share” it with others, or do I truly want my pain to end? Specifically, am I working through my grief – emerging ready to fully live my new single lifestyle – or am I hanging on to it from self-pity and the desire to get sympathy?

My response to this question is “both.” I certainly have shared a lot of my anguish with others, including on this blog, and occasionally I have probably over-dramatized my sadness to gather physical, verbal, and online support. Plus, I go every two weeks to a grief group that in some ways allows me to focus upon my misery rather than upon my journey (Hanging on to pain is certainly not the intent of the group; it is the responsibility of each member to use the group to grow).

          On the other hand, I do see myself gradually emerging from the fog of grief. It’s been almost a year since Pat died, a year I’ve filled with people and home improvement to combat my loneliness. I took my first trip away from home just last month, to visit two of my brothers. The journey went well and left me feeling more full than empty. My anxiety level is down, and even a cancer scare hasn’t brought on depressive thinking.

          One thing I’m sure of: staying perpetually sad is not the best way to honor Pat. She’d want me to live with my memories of her, not die with them. That’s why I keep several pictures of her smiling; when I look at those pictures I start to smile too.