How Much Grief Is Too Much?


The holidays bring up a plethora of complicated emotions for many of us; Mother’s Day and Father’s Day may be the most polarizing of all.

I have my own strong reactions to these holidays because of my personal issues with my parents, but I also feel like I am not going to allow past hurts and incidents that are no longer viable have that much power and influence over my emotions. I have spent a ridiculous amount of time grieving the relationship I wish I had with my parents. I have spoken to them, written letters, spoken to others, commiserated with my peers and processed my emotions ad nauseam. I believe the healthy conversations have supported me with transforming my thoughts about my parents, myself and the actions of all parties involved.

I realized I did not find the point in purposely looking forward to a day of sadness, because that is what it had been historically. I would dread my birthday, Mother’s Day, and Father’s Day, and I would schedule my grief, wear my chip on my shoulder, and make sure I allowed all that emotional baggage to litter all over a perfectly viable day. I lived in the moment when I felt most disempowered and allowed the words uttered by someone who used to have power over me cripple my self-esteem. I willfully allowed myself to live within the confines and comfort of the pain I was used to. I was the ringleader of my own destruction, and I gave life to the pain by fanning the flames of the inferno, setting my whole life ablaze. I was the arsonist, but I also learned I could extinguish the flames if I chose to, and it was time to choose to have a breakthrough.

How much grieving am I going to do as an adult regarding things that happened as a teenager? The grief is not empowering nor productive for me. Deeper than lack of productivity is missing out on the opportunity to create a new beginning, a brand new story, and traditions that are empowering for me. I believe I have spent enough time sorting through the pain, and although I still feel the ramifications of my past, I do not have to allow it to hinder my present joy. Just as I will not allow past heartbreaks to determine how my future relationships go, I can let these holidays take on a brand new meaning. My daughter deserves to enjoy all the holidays without my shit taking precedence over the whole day. Everything for her is brand new, and as the adult, it is my job to create a space filled with the possibility of something new. Even if I were unable to manifest a new beginning for myself, I at least owe it to my child to do so.

Grieving is a necessary part of life. It is a raw expression of feeling loss, disappointment and a longing for what once was or what could have been. What grief is not is being present to what is possible while overcoming that pain. Actively preparing myself to be sad on a particular day is disempowering, and there is no honor in operating that way for me. Whether I am grieving for a lost relationship or a lost loved one, the answer remains the same: I cannot grieve forever. The sting of the sadness and the void may be present, but I do not have to allow the sadness to stain my remaining days.

Grief is not meant to be permanent, and it is also not meant to cripple. I am thankful for my moments of darkness because they taught me how to seek out the light, my power, and making a powerful choice regarding my personal peace.