Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Fallacy of Letting Go

If you read about loss and grief, they say that eventually you reach the stage of acceptance and letting go. I don't believe it. Maybe some people do. Maybe they manage to shut the door on their feelings, or push them aside, or just get so busy with life that they ignore them, but that hasn't happened to me. The stage of anger never happened either.

I started to wonder, what would "letting go" mean, anyway? I tried to find an explanation that made sense to me. It seems, the prevailing viewpoint is, or at least was, that after some period of time, the surviving person will "get over it" and "get on with life" and behave in a "normal way," as though they have healed from the pain of loss.

But the writers that made sense to me were the ones that said that we now know that some people NEVER get over their loss, never get over their grief, but just learn to live and cope with it. That's not letting go. It's just coexisting with your grieving feelings.

Most days I'm not sad, or at least not for long, but there are always triggers that will bring tears to my eyes and the grief comes flooding back in, as though it were just dammed up behind a door and all it takes to let it out is the key to open that door. The key can be something I don't even know will happen, like seeing a car like Leif's, or seeing a news report about the death of soldiers, or remembering him playing with his nieces and nephews, or a host of other things.

If letting go means I can finally and dispose of some of his things that I haven't been able to bring myself to part with for nearly seven-and-a-half years, then perhaps I'm getting closer. After all this time, I still have his billfold intact, but I've finally come to the decision to sell his base and Kramer guitars. It's hard, because yet again, it seems like dismantling a piece of his identity, taking away something he loved and which gave him great pleasure. But, I have finally come to the point where I know that letting them sit untouched does none of us any good, and someone else could have that pleasure in playing them. So, I am now going to sell the guitars.

I don't think, though, that letting go of THINGS is the same as letting go of LEIF. I can't do that. I never will. He is still a daily part of our lives, every day. Like his dad said yesterday, we still have so many of his things, and things he gave us, that we use daily. But it's not just those that remind us of him. It's even just being in this house, remembering where he sat, what his room was like. It's a thousand memories that come back over and over, not always with sadness, but always with connection, with love.

And the lack of that, in the end, the lack of love and connectedness, was what really killed Leif, like a flower that wasn't watered, or a man who felt no one needed him.

I still have and wear the shirt Leif is wearing in this picture. At that time, in 1991, Hypercolor was all the rage. He loved it, found it fascinating. This photo was taken in St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands on October 19, 1991. We were having lunch and he was playing with the shirt, making the smiley face on it and showing off the logo for his grandmother, who took the photo. The shirt is old now, well worn, and no longer has the Hypercolor properties, but I love it for the memories that I will never let go, just as I will never let me son go. I will hold him as close as I can for all my life.

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