I’m grieving about when I die. I have anticipatory grief regarding my own life.
I needed to find out where this is coming from. The why behind my grief. I started to look into this feeling. Why now? Where was it coming from? I’m not sick, I am a very healthy 60-year-old woman. I am not afraid to die…it seems to be about everything that happens after I’m gone, that part. I don’t want to miss anything that happens in the lives of my children, grandchildren and close friends. I have huge fear of missing out (FOMO) about them and I don’t have normally have FOMO. My heart wants to be here to support and encourage them through this life. I know life will go on without me and that is as it should be and it’s what I want. I also know that I am not replaceable. Yeah, I said it. It’s because there is no one quite like me.
I know I can’t take away the pain of the loss they will feel…but I can share the tools I have learned to help them navigate through their grief. But right now … I’m grieving my future. This feeling sneaks up on me when I least expect it…I can be snuggling a sleeping grandchild and tears form in my eyes as I choke down the emotion when I think about not being there for them one day. This is not about them, it’s about me…I’m grieving the hopes and dreams I have about our future together and what I will miss when I die. I know…sounds silly, doesn’t it? I’m a grief recovery method specialist…what the heck?? I know how to move through grief…and is this grief different? Well, it hasn’t happened yet…but it’s still grief…so let’s take a look.
I was lying to myself about all this (I’m fine it’s not affecting me at all kind of lie). I thought it wasn’t taking away from the moments I was having with each person I hold dear…except, at times it was. That's the lie I was telling me myself. Just the other day I was hanging out with a dear friend who is much younger than I am and I started to think and talk about where we would be in 20 years. I thought about how she will be in her early 50’s. When I think of my 50’s I remember I was living my best life. Such good memories… I got excited for her. Then my reality …I will be 80, my heart sank. Now, don’t get me wrong I love the age I am and getting older. I believe every generation has value. What you see here is the conflicting feelings about this change in life. Which is normal and natural. Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the change in a familiar pattern of behavior. As we age things change. Anyway, back to my story… I asked her if we would still hang out? Then I could feel the tears again. She sweetly reassured me that many people are thriving in their 80’s and 90’s and of course we would still hang out. I secretly said a little prayer in my head and asked God to let be here in my 80’s and 90’s living a healthy, vibrant life and could I still be relevant and valuable. Oh, the fear of not being relevant. Then I heard the still small voice telling me I was valuable more valuable than rubies and I would be all the days of life.
Psalms 139:13-16 TPT
'You formed my innermost being, shaping my delicate inside and my intricate outside, and wove them all together in my mother’s womb. I thank you, God, for making me so mysteriously complex! Everything you do is marvelously breathtaking. It simply amazes me to think about it! How thoroughly you know me, Lord! You even formed every bone in my body when you created me in the secret place; carefully, skillfully you shaped me from nothing to something. You saw who you created me to be before I became me! Before I’d ever seen the light of day, the number of days you planned for me were already recorded in your book. '
Yes, and amen!! This scripture gives me such hope and peace knowing I am who He says I am and my road map is clearly set by Him.
Next I asked my older sister if she ever experienced this kind of grief and she said yes. I was kind of relieved to know I wasn’t alone. I want you to know my sister is one of the most vibrant, energetic, fun loving, creative individuals I know and is recreating her purpose in her late 60’s!! Talk about inspiring. She is a talented artist and is now selling her paintings. I want to be more like her when I grow up.
But back to my story…now, neither of us want our children to have to deal with anything difficult after we die, like passwords, junk drawers, taxes, wills, houses and all the other stuff. We mommas/grandmas worry. We get that we can’t stop the hurt they will experience even though we have taken all the right steps to hopefully make it easier for them. We love them and want what’s best for them and that includes letting them grieve and walk through dealing with details…its hard.
Honestly this is something I didn’t want to think about. But it seemed to be creeping in more and more…so I kept asking myself why? It must be important. I figured it out, it’s about legacy.
As I have gotten older, I was really questioning all this purpose and legacy stuff…do I have a legacy….is my purpose still relevant?
I realize my legacy is what’s left in the people whose lives I have touched…and all the ripples. Like a kindness shared…paying it forward…listening to someone who just needs to be heard...that kind of thing. I’m not taking about leaving a great invention or changing the world kind of legacy. But each of us has an opportunity to make a difference in our own corner of the world and who knows maybe that kindness you showed someone will affect a positive change in their life and cause a beautiful little ripple.
All that made me think of the wake we leave. Our wakes don’t lie. Our wake is what we leave behind, its our record. We as human beings have an awesome opportunity as we move ahead in life. We can either sail through or plow through like a wrecking ball. Of course we will have bumps (lessons) along the way...its all apart of the journey. We can make good choices on how we live and love. Have you ever heard the phrase “Nature doesn’t hurry, yet everything is accomplished” Laozi. Love this!!! I used to be a wrecking ball…now I’m becoming the gentle human I was made to be, creating a beautiful wake. Not hurrying but accomplishing my purpose. I appreciate that our lives are like a work of art, unique, beautiful, messy and full possibilities…we are just like a new painting having so much possibility to bring beauty into the world. We have the chance to leave a life well lived behind us seen in the people whose lives we touched.
This story all comes together because when I think about legacy it reminds me of death…so that’s where all these feelings came from. But legacy is really about living. It’s about perspective. I still have time to make informed, conscious choices about the kind of life I want to live and the legacy I want to leave behind.
This past year has taught me so much about my life, my past and my present as I walk into each new day. It has shown me who I was pretending to be and who I have become on the way to myself. You know what…I am falling in love with my messy, emotional, loving, adventurous/cautious, silly, giving, hopeful, kind, smart, experienced and unique self. This is my signature…this is me.
So, after writing this and researching these subjects, I feel a little better as I navigate the latter part of my life. I still keep coming back to “it ain’t over till its over” Yogi Berra. Thanks Yogi...I agree.
I can’t say I won’t grieve getting older from time to time but I can say I am embracing this season of life knowing I do have value and I am relevant. I have something to say and I can listen.
So, there you have it. Grief comes from more than a death of a loved one, its any emotional loss and even those that haven’t happened yet. Grief is unique to you. No judgement, no criticism, only respect, love and honoring you and your story. Because everyone has a story.
Advanced Grief Recovery Method Specialist