[👉 trigger warning – I talk about loss of a partner in this post]
Loss of a spouse is popping up in my life a lot lately – not my own, thankfully, but it’s showing up in a podcast I listen to, a Netflix show I watch, artists I follow on social media, a book I’m reading, and recently, a friend of a friend.
I haven’t had death in my close relationships yet but know it’s inevitable.
Like the writer, Elizabeth Gilbert, joked about in this podcast episode, death rate has kept it up at 100% since, well, always. Yet we’re still flabbergasted and appalled when someone we love dies.
I’ve been reading the book Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resiliance, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant.
This book had sat on my “for later” shelf in my library account for a few months, and honestly, I forgot what it was about.
I was jolted awake in the opening scene where Sheryl’s husband, Dave, dies suddenly and unexpectedly on their vacation in Mexico.
(Pretty much my worst nightmare.)
I have a tendency to fantasize about terrible situations on a good day, and loss of close loved ones has been on my mind a lot lately.
My Dave makes fun of me that I have such a morbid imagination and I “pre-mourn” stuff.
He’s Mr. Silver Lining – always looking for positives in life and doesn’t spend whole a lot of time and energy thinking about the negatives.
You may agree with Dave and think it’s unhealthy for me to dive deeply into the world of loss and grief when things are fine in my real life.
I can understand the argument. It does seem unproductive and harmful to intentionally picture your spouse dying suddently and experience the loss and grief on purpose.
(Granted, it’s an “imagined” loss, which cannot be compared to the real thing. I acknowldege the real loss would be 1000x more devastating and horrifying and life-changing.)
Yet, I can’t help but wonder, how would I survive such a loss? Would I ever be happy again? Could I feel true joy after you lose someone you love?
From what I’ve been learning (and from my experience working with domestic violence survivors for many years), it seems the answer is yes, even after you experience a tremendous loss and trauma, you can still be happy again.
One thing I want you to understand is when I’m in my dark fantasy world, I’m not feeling depressed.
Rather, I find overwhelming gratitude for what I do have in life.
Clearly, Dave is alive and well today. I don’t want him to go anytime soon but even if he did (sorry Dave!!), I’ve had wonderful 12 and a half years with him. It could’ve been 3 years instead of 12. Heck, maybe we would’ve never met if the stars hadn’t alighned in the first place!
And let me state the obvious that I’m choosing to imagine this situation. If this were real, I’d have no choice but to live it.
I do believe in silver lining. It’s just that I need to fully embrace the bad before I can appreciate the good. It’s not helpful for me to jump right into the positives before giving time and space to honor the negatives.
Only then, I can move on to celebrate the good things that surround me. And my art allows me to express joy in life.
Thank you for letting me share what I’ve been thinking a lot about 😘 I know it’s not very easy to hear or think about loss.
I hesitated to write about this today but did it anway in case you’re struggling with loss and grief, whether it’s from death, divorce, illness, or rejection from your family.
I wanted you to know I’m thinking of you. You’re not alone.
ps. I highly recommend the book and podcast episode I highlighted above ☝️if you or someone you love is experiencing grief. Great resources.
pps. I’ll be back next week to tell you about my new collection! 🥳