Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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Grief Is Just Love With No Place to Go

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” Jamie Anderson

Are you like me? Do you find yourself suddenly a bit sad, melancholy, out of the blue? Or perhaps, like me, you tear up at every sentimental story you happen across. A stray dog is reunited with its long, lost owner after a week, a month, a decade. An older man buys a kid a new bike after the kid slams into the man’s car by accident and the old guy just can’t let the embarrassment of hitting his car be the last memory of the bike. It’s like every possible emotion lies so close to the surface that the tiniest breeze uncovers it.

Maybe it’s the unbidden memories of loss that do it. That happens to me, too. More and more often, come to think of it. Some of them are prompted (the downside of Facebook Memories I suppose), but just as often they seem to come out of nowhere. I was watching my 9 year old Aussie racing around the yard yesterday and just couldn’t shake the memories of my Border Collie, Abby the Wonder Dog, who should have been right there chasing Sasha for all she was worth. It was hard to see Sasha after a moment. I thought I had something in my eye, at least until Beth’s goofy little mutt Tiny Tim joined the party.

Boy, did I love those dogs. Haddie and Kota, too. After so many years I still grieve.

As I was gathering my thoughts before musing this morning I stumbled upon Ms. Anderson’s words and had an epiphany: I miss being able to love those I’ve loved and lost. At levels both very deep and barely below the surface, I continue to grieve. It’s truly grief; there’s really not a tinge of regret here. I’ve largely followed my own advice to tell those I love them just that. To ask forgiveness if I’ve somehow hurt them, and forgiven them for any harms that came my way. I’ve thanked them for loving me and for allowing me to love them. No “I wish I’d’s” or “I should have’s” or “if only I’d had more to to’s”. When I read that lovely quote I simply realized that I still had so very much love to give to those I’ve lost, and what I was feeling was that I can’t.

Every now and again the losses pile up like so much water in a bucket, until they spill over into the open. Not just lives, although those are the toughest of course. My Dad and my grandparents, Beth’s parents. My friend lost to suicide a year ago. Perhaps its a one degree of separation life lost that does it; my sister and her husband lost a brother-in-law a couple of weeks ago; I’d never even met him, and yet the tears ran as if we’d just had a beer last month. Sometimes no one dies but there is a decrease, or a loss of proximity, contact. Doesn’t matter why. Something creates a space that is almost as wide, as impossible to navigate, as death itself.

Today is Mother’s Day, or as I prefer to think of it, Mommy’s Day. I confess that I have no idea how or where or by whom Mother’s Day was created. But unlike blatantly commercial creations like “Sweetest Day” (American Greetings card-giving creation) or just outright silliness like “National Eyelash Day” (not kidding; really a thing), today is the day when we are each given permission to fawn over the Mom’s we still have among us.

You called your Mom, right?

That’s the point. The reason I open my annual thoughts on Mother’s Day with musings on grief. My beloved Gamma, Mom’s mom, is gone. So, too, both of Beth’s grandmothers. My mother-in-law has been gone for a few years now, too. My FB Memories from 6 years ago are filled with pictures and videos of the magnificent trip to Mexico arranged by my soon-to-be departed father-in-law when he surprised Sandy by bringing their girls (and their boys) to Mexico for a last family gathering to celebrate both Sandy’s Birthday and Mother’s Day. Soon, too soon, Bob would be gone. My Dad, too. Whether it’s Mother’s Day or just some random Tuesday, there’s no one there to call.

But not today. Sure, I will set aside a little bit of time to grieve for Mommies not here to Mom. I’ll tear up at all of the Mom memories that come my way today. But I am still blessed on this Mother’s Day. Today I have a bunch of Moms to call. Starting with my Mom and my darling Beth, my kids’ Mom, I have tons of love that still has a clear place to go.

So Happy Mother’s Day to all of you Moms out there, and to the kids who still have you there for us to love.

2 Responses to “Grief Is Just Love With No Place to Go”

  1. May 9th, 2022 at 9:17 am

    Michelle Phillips Fay says:

    Some eye doctor you are? I can’t see a thing right now. [Crying. Not crying.]

  2. May 9th, 2022 at 12:55 pm

    dee says:

    love this

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