On Saturday morning as I was folding laundry I was suddenly overwhelmed with grief. I am not someone who cries easily but I felt the tears coming and I let them. I folded laundry and cried and thought about my loved one. By the time I was finished folding the last pair of tiny Star Wars boxer briefs, I wasn’t crying anymore. I took a deep breath, blew my nose, washed my face, and went to join my husband and son in the kitchen.
My son was in the living room, playing, but my husband was still sitting at the kitchen table. When I saw him, the tears welled up again. Rather than turning back to my bedroom, I walked to him. He could see I was upset and he stood up.
“I’m just so sad,” I said, and cried into his chest as he held me. “I miss her so much!”
“I know,” he said, and held on.
Within a couple of minutes, the tears slowed again. I let go of my husband and did the wash face/blow nose routine again. I felt a little better. Throughout the day, I felt waves of grief, not as intense as what I had felt earlier, but I let them come. I noticed my grief, I acknowledged my grief, then let it go.
I let the feelings come and I let them go. I didn’t resist them. My grief didn’t swamp me—and it didn’t keep getting worse and worse, as I have feared it would at times.
Like the ocean waves, my grief ebbs and flows. All my feelings do, when I let them. It’s when I try to resist my feelings that they become unmanageable. When that happens I get headaches and stomachaches and a stiff neck and everything in my life and my day gets harder and harder. I’m so busy trying to resist my grief (or my anxiety or my anger) that I miss out on the joy and the peace and the satisfaction and every other good feeling I could be having.
Positive emotions and negative emotions come and go. It’s when we resist them—and I’ve noticed we can resist the positive emotions just as vehemently as the negative emotions—that they cause problems.
In this brand new year I am more willing to feel all of my emotions than I have ever been.
What emotions are you willing to feel this year?