Ch.213 My Two Worlds

Ch.213 My Two Worlds

Aug 2023

          I attended a two-day workshop on grief recently. My goal, when I attend seminars, no matter how long, is a modest one: to gather one idea, concept, guideline, or model that I will remember and make use of. Here’s the one I came away with: the Two World Model, more officially called the Dual Process Model.

          FIRST WORLD: Coping with Loss. When I’m in this world I’m thinking about Pat a lot, feeling sad and crying, remembering our times together, sitting beside her grave, visiting the place where I surrounded three trees with the thousands of rocks Pat collected, looking at photos of what we did together, reminiscing with my children or friends, and smiling when I recall something joyful we shared. I’m here, in the present, but oriented toward the past.

         SECOND WORLD: Restoration. When I’m in this world I’m signing up for Learning in Retirement talks, meeting old and new friends, developing new interests and activities such as colored pencil drawing, finding meaningful activities to pursue (facilitating support groups, including one for dementia that Pat and I previously attended as participants), trying to convince Levi to swallow his antibiotics, thinking less about Pat, and crying less often. I’m in the present but more oriented toward the future than the past.

          It’s not like I camp out in one or the other of these worlds. Rather, I seem to flow from one to the other, sometimes gracefully, for example when taking Levi for a walk reminds me how he was Pat’s constant companion, and sometimes jarringly, as when I am suddenly interrupted by a wave of grief while seemingly doing nothing to precipitate it. I’ve never quite understood or felt comfortable with the meaning of the phrase “getting on with life.” I thought it meant leaving the First World forever. But now I realize it doesn’t have to be that way. I can and certainly will spend time in that world for the rest of my life. But in the meantime, I can also meander through the Second World. I don’t want to get stuck in the first world of unending sorrow, nor do I intend to forget Pat as if she were a forgotten chapter in a misplaced book.