Closure: The ultimate expectation in grief work!
For starters let me explain my definition of expectations. It is what you think ought to happen as a result of what you do, say, think, or plan. Expectations set us up to believe that something must be a certain way for us to feel whole, happy, and connected to ourselves and others. An example: “I will never cry about my mom’s death again. I did the grief work and I am finished!” You can see why that expectation might set me up for a big letdown. I believe an intention would be much more supportive of the grief process. An intention may sound like this: I am willing to be compassionate with myself whenever a memory of my mom comes up. Let me tell you why I blog about this today…
Five years ago my husband’s mother died. I remember hearing our friends and family talking about getting closure. I was brought back to my experience with my mom’s death. I had gone through many years with unresolved pain and guilt about her death. “Why didn’t I go to see her sooner?” “She was sick and I didn’t have her come live with me.” “If I had been better at Life she would have been with me so that I could have taken care of her.” And on the untruthful stories go.
Years later I would find an amazing therapist who was trained in grief therapy. I felt like I was being lifted from a dark place I had grown in for a very long time. I fell in love with the work and decided to get my training. Mind you, this was many years after my mother’s death. When I went for my training to become a Grief Counselor, I had just given birth to my last child, Madison. I had already done my work around all the big losses in my life; including my mom. However, my grief came flooding back to me during that training. I was so overwhelmed by the grief I was experiencing around my mother. The emotion was inexplicable to me. I started talking to one of the grief recovery leaders, and he helped me to process that grief. I was grieving that my mother was not here to be with me with my newborn daughter as she had been with my other three children.
So, my insight to you is that you do the work to be as emotionally complete as possible in your life. At the same time remember life can have lots of firsts, holidays, anniversaries, births, other losses, and so on. Those firsts can come up and allow us to grieve for the loss differently. I say lean into that feeling, embrace it for all it’s worth!