Tuesday, October 14, 2008

How do you spell g-r-i-e-f?

Last month, actor Paul Newman died. I wasn't a big fan, but I do respect his work in film. As I watched his daughter speak on television about his life's accomplishments, I became saddened. What if that were my dad? Should I go out and buy some of Newman's Own salad dressing in honor of him? It just felt weird.

Last week, I found out that my first boyfriend was killed in a tragic shooting in Chicago. I had not seen or spoken to him in about 10 years, but preceding that, we were good friends and lovers who often discussed mortality in this dangerous world. He is probably what attracted me to police officers in the first place.

I was devastated as I read news accounts and watched video snippets of his funeral. At the same time, though, I felt silly. I was mourning as if he was still an active participant in my life...but he wasn't. Or was he?

After attending last week's divorce care class, it took these two deaths to make it plain and clear to me.

I never grieved any relationships I've had. I have always been scared to grieve. I was afraid of the pain. To make sure there was never any pain, I made sure we ended things on as upbeat a note as possible. We always, "remained friends."

Except this time. This divorce was about more. I have been forced to not only grieve my relationship with Mr. X, but I am also grieving the hopes and dreams for our future that I had. Needless to say, we haven't remained friends. And you guessed it, I am also grieving the other great loves of my life that I have lost. And now, one of them is not only gone from my life, but from this world as we know it, and I must grieve that too.

So now, the real work begins. I can acknowledge the pain and use the scattered remnants of each relationship and move forward. It's time to decide what worked, what didn't, was what good, what was bad, and what I could have and should have done differently.

What do you think about when you reflect on your past interpersonal relationships? What helps you make it through the grieving process?

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