This time of year puts an enormous amount of pressure on people in general, doesn’t it?
Add in the hugeness of grief and it can be overwhelming in the extreme.
Since Chuck’s death, I’ve become a perfect Buddhist. Which is what he was, philosophically speaking. Stay with me here...that wasn’t a random statement.
Thanksgiving, or any of the other holidays, doesn’t necessarily cause an upsurge in grief for me, primarily because every day since he died is a cacophony of emotions and memories that swirl through my head, and the dull aches and sharp pains of missing-ness. It’s fairly constant. So what it is the connection between me being a perfect Buddhist and the holidays and pressure?
It’s all about the fucks I don’t give. Which is to say, I don’t put the pressure on myself to be grateful. About anything, on any given day, honestly, but most certainly about holidays.
Society tells us we’re supposed to be grateful but I don’t care what society says. In the month leading up to this Thursday, numerous people on fb have participated in a 30 day gratitude challenge. And I don’t fault the challenge or those who take it on; I’m just saying I don’t even think about being grateful, and I'm okay with that. I just go with the flow. No expectations of what is or isn't supposed to be, no expectations of how I or anyone else is supposed to be. I just flow...
Trying to find something for which to be grateful, in the midst of grief, can be a struggle for those of us who are newly on this widowed road. A struggle for those who are further down the road. All of us. Any of us. But not being grateful is, of course, generally speaking, not acceptable. We must be grateful!! For something...for anything.
Here’s the thing for me which makes life so much easier for me: I’ve released the need of commanding myself, forcing myself, to feel what I’m supposed to feel, according to some social construct that I’ve been fed my entire life. I’ve released the fear of others judging me if I tell them outright Actually I’m not grateful for anything, including being alive. What do you think of THAT? And you know what? (And this is what makes me a semi-perfect, quasi Buddhist). By not judging myself, by not putting the pressure on myself to feel or not feel a specific emotion, I’ve freed my soul to love those around me more freely...family or friends or anyone else. I’m too busy being in the moment to allow those expectations that cloud my brain to have any power. Making that gratitude list, for me, is a brain thing and I want to be in the heart thing. I don't want to get into my head (I do that way too much as it is). So figuratively or literally, no gratitude list. No judging myself and my reactions one way or the other.
On Thanksgiving I’ll be sad, missing my husband. The grief will, as it tends to do, run amuck through my veins. Which is okay in this world of so much not being okay. I’m not in this to impress people or fit into some mold that was designed for me without my knowledge.
Grief carries with it an awesome weight and this is mine to figure out, not anyone else’s. How I do things, what I do, what I think, how I let it be or not be...all of this is mine to carry, and I just don’t have the energy, quite frankly, to concern myself with whether or not I’m grateful or not grateful. Too much of an energy drain. All I need to do is love whomever is in my life. Period. Which is why I’m that Buddhist. Because I’ve gone all zen since Chuck died, having that lack of attachment to outcome, having expectations of situations or people, judging myself for where I am with this grief. I’m solely in the moment.
And I like it that way.