Let go of grief, not of the person

Trees with a glimpse of the blus sky and sunlight

“I’ve heard of your platitudes. I got them; I know. ‘She is in a better place’. And, ‘this is all part of a master plan’. Heard that one, too. Then there’s the science, biocentrism and we are all living and dying in infinite universes all at the same time. And then… ‘row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream. Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily life is but a dream! I got it. I got it! It all basically says that you’re a natural part of life, we shouldn’t hate you, we shouldn’t fear you. I guess we should just accept you, right? I get it. Here’s the thing. It’s all a bunch of intellectual garbage because she’s not here holding my hand”.

Howard to the personification of Death, collateral beauty, 2016.

The first time I heard this dialogue I was in the movies watching this amazing film about the aftermath of when someone you deeply love, dies. I remember how it resonated with every fiber of my being because it captures the magnitude of the pain and the love that you’re holding at the same time; it doesn’t matter what anyone says or does, you just want that person back.

So, this is a letter, a love letter in a sense, to all the people who have lost someone, not just to death, but also to life. Which means, this is a letter for all of us. These are the words that I wish someone had told me when I was going through the rough experience of losing someone.

We find the phrase “time to let go” pretty much everywhere. We read it in several books, hear it in very emotional moments at the movies, our friends have said it to us, and we have said to our friends. The thing is, I have never felt completely comfortable with that phrase and I finally think I know why. Because letting go of a person that you have truly loved is impossible, at least for me.

I have this theory that if you truly love someone, you never stop loving them. Maybe your relationship changes, or you are separated by death or maybe, something happens and that person is not in your life anymore, but whenever you think of them, your heart instantly fills with sunlight. (You thought of a particular person when I said that, right? I know, I was thinking of a bunch of people too while writing it).

The thing is, we put so much pressure on ourselves to “move on”, to “let go”, to feel like we think we should be feeling, instead of just letting our hearts guide us through the process of physically separating from someone we love. And I emphasize the word physically, because true bonds, soul bonds, are never broken, just transformed.

Of course, we cannot go through the world carrying so much pain, so much grief, so how do we survive these rough processes of life? What I propose is: try to let go of the grief instead of focusing on letting go of the person.

Now, this may sound really weird because after a loss, pain seems to take hold on everything associated with that person: memories of them, photos, letters, etcetera. However, in my experience, I think it can be done.

What I do when one of the people whom I have lost comes into my mind and I immediately start to feel how my heart clenches by their absence, I start to remember, very slowly but surely, every single beautiful thing about the person. How they laughed, how they talked, what was their favorite food, what they taught me, the way they made me feel, their smell when I embraced them. Sure, after remembering all of that there’s still a glimpse of grief in my heart, but is very small compared to the enormous feeling of awe that I get when I remember the power of love between two human beings.  

It is important to say that this is not something that I used to do before I fully stopped grieving, because loss is a tricky thing and I’m not sure if grief ever goes away completely. However, whenever grief tries to sneak on me again, I make sure to first open the door to feel it, and then let him leave out of the window so that sunlight can come in.