Examples: Monday, today, last week, Mar 26, 3/26/04
Welcome home! Please contact lincoln@newbuddhist.com if you have any difficulty logging in or using the site. New registrations must be manually approved which may take up to 48 hours. Can't log in? Try clearing your browser's cookies.

Is letting go the same as forgetting?

nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

On the face of it, it would seem not. But the net effect still seems the same.

My fiancee passed away a little over a year ago. But I still struggle with the grief, especially when I find myself having to deal with her possessions. Yesterday I had a little break down making up our bed, something I had been avoiding for a while.

It seems like the ‘healthy’ thing to do is to put her behind me, and forget that she ever existed. But I just...can’t. However it seems like every memory is tainted with sorrow, and best not revisited. I’m not quite sure how to deal with this.

How is ‘letting go’ best applied to grief?

Comments

  • Taking up.

    In other words focussing on other things. It is natural to struggle. Where we place our attention is where we find our being ...

    ElizFosdick
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I know my father took about 4 years to come to terms with the death of my stepmother, and he had a serious brush with alcoholism along the way.

  • kandokando northern Ireland Veteran

    Grief is natural, why does society try to rush people through it? Making others feel guilty for being sad, for crying, for not 'moving on' which is so often a cover for 'your making me uncomfortable, stop it!' letting go is different, softer, gentler, not an erasure but acceptance of loss.

    Kundonakazcid
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    I haven't had to face this sort of grief in my life. But from what I hear from others who have, the experience isn't so much of letting go as it is of making room. The grief is always there but you aren't so close to it, there is space for other areas of life. An analogy that makes sense to me is that it would be like in your mind you're in your house sitting right next to a picture of her or you're in your house living your life and her picture is still there but the rest of your house is there too.

    Like I said, I don't have personal experience but hopefully there is something there that helps. <3

    Buddha-Dudekando
  • JasonJason God Emperor Arrakis Moderator
    edited October 18

    There are various ways of dealing with grief, fond remembrances, distracting oneself, talking to a grief counselor, the simple passage of time which lessens the sting, etc. I think letting go is another, and not mutually exclusive from some of those; but it's less about forgetting and more about the acceptance of things as they are, the realities of impermanence, aging, illness, and death, and so on. What one let's go of is the desire for things to be different, and the laying down of any sort of regret or guilt related to the person we've lost. It's a very difficult thing to do, which is why people opt for other ways of dealing with it. But it's a more complete and freeing experience.

    misecmisc1nakazcid
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @nakazcid said:
    On the face of it, it would seem not. But the net effect still seems the same.

    My fiancee passed away a little over a year ago. But I still struggle with the grief, especially when I find myself having to deal with her possessions. Yesterday I had a little break down making up our bed, something I had been avoiding for a while.

    It seems like the ‘healthy’ thing to do is to put her behind me, and forget that she ever existed. But I just...can’t. However it seems like every memory is tainted with sorrow, and best not revisited. I’m not quite sure how to deal with this.

    How is ‘letting go’ best applied to grief?

    Never was there a phrase as completely jarring as "Forgive and forget", which kind of runs parallel with your question; I realise it focuses on a different tack, or train of behaviour, but it's kind of the same.
    And I came to this conclusion: You CAN forgive - but forgetting, is quite a different matter, and it's the resentment we tussle with, in this specific aspect of engaging with others. It can be a struggle, depending on the issue, of course.

    Similarly, Letting go might be one thing - but forgetting?

    Forget it.

    The two are not the same thing at all, and as far as I am concerned, are definitely mutually exclusive.

    In short, there is every good reason for 'letting go' - of the heaviness, sadness and crippling weight of helplessness and the aching void that death leaves us with.
    There is no good reason why that should entail forgetting - because by continuing to carry our love for someone in our hearts, we celebrate their existence, honour their presence in our lives, and laud the effect they had on our life.

    So no, Letting Go, is definitely nothing like, or anything near the realm of Forgetting.

    Asking you to consider forgetting her, insults both her memory, and your loving regard and care for her.

    You miss her, dammit, of course you do - and so you should! You spent a lot of time with her and cared for her in a complete, selfless and loving way - all this in spite of not being exactly firing on all cylinders yourself, if I remember rightly.... So you had a lot to contend with, and a huge responsibility, both to her and yourself

    It sounds as if you are still coping - or trying to cope - so well, that you're hindering the Grief from manifesting as perhaps would be healthy.

    Grieve. By all means, allow that emotion to arise, and respect it. It's natural, and right that you should.

    Hold on to the love.
    Let Go of the Loss.

    lobsternakazcid
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    Thanks @federica and everyone for replying. This has been a difficult year, and the thoughtul posts really help.

    This latest crisis seems to have started when I started considering selling my car. While my fiancee and I spent many hours together in it, she also died in that car on the way to the hospital. I've been considering selling it, and some in my life have been strongly urging me to get rid of it. Hence the conflict over 'forgetting' my fiancee. I'm considering getting rid of a strong reminder of her life - and her passing.

    @Tashiplusnamgyal Aversion and I are old friends. He can be a real drag, but he also keeps me safe from some really nasty emotions. memories and situations. Kicking him to the curb would be really difficult...

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    It may at first sound like a daft idea - but have you considered 'space-cleansing' the car and taking her 'presence' with you?
    I did a lot of Sacred Space clearing when I was a Feng Shui practitioner... It does nothing to devalue or dismiss the person in question - on the contrary, it honours their existence, but enables the relevant space to cease holding them in a fixed sense....

    personlobster
  • personperson Don't believe everything you think 'Merica! Veteran

    @nakazcid said:
    This latest crisis seems to have started when I started considering selling my car. While my fiancee and I spent many hours together in it, she also died in that car on the way to the hospital. I've been considering selling it, and some in my life have been strongly urging me to get rid of it. Hence the conflict over 'forgetting' my fiancee. I'm considering getting rid of a strong reminder of her life - and her passing.

    I'm basically with @federica My initial thought before reading her post was to use some sort of ceremony or ritual of some kind to remember her and take a piece of her with you. I don't know about those sorts of things but what fed recommends sounds nice.

  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    Some are advising to let the feelings and memories arise, then pass. I'm afraid to do this. This is not simply an irrational fear; many years ago my mother passed away, and the grief and regret dragged me into a nearly suicidal depression. And the pain can be overwhelming. So I carefully avoid such intense sadness. Is there a 'safe' way to proceed with experiencing this?

    @federica Many people find rituals comforting, but they don't seem to do me much good. I don't know if it's because I tend to be very logical (except when I'm not, lol) or if my early negative experiences with organized religion tainted my enjoyment of such things.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited October 20

    No, I get it; no problem.
    Then, maybe, as part of your letting-go-but-never-forgetting, you should sit in the car and actively 'absorb' your Girlfriend, and tell yourself you need to release the car to someone else.

    Sit in the car, and meditate upon releasing, and giving yourself permission to do so.
    It's not being disloyal; it's not betraying her memory.

    Ask yourself this: what would she want you to do?

    I believe that she wouldn't be happy to see you staying as stuck as you feel.

    I have been witness to those dying, encouraging and asking the loved ones they leave behind to go on with their lives and to find someone else.

    Now, I'm not suggesting you do, or should.
    What I am saying is that I suspect your Girlfriend would be sad for you,. to think that you were holding on to something that can never respond, reciprocate or give you anything back, but the memory of her passing...

    @nakazcid said: Some are advising to let the feelings and memories arise, then pass. I'm afraid to do this. This is not simply an irrational fear; many years ago my mother passed away, and the grief and regret dragged me into a nearly suicidal depression. And the pain can be overwhelming. So I carefully avoid such intense sadness. Is there a 'safe' way to proceed with experiencing this?

    Can I ask, have you sought Grief Counselling? I don't mean from any professional therapist you might ALREADY be seeing - I mean from a qualified, specialist Grief Counsellor?

  • FoibleFullFoibleFull Canada Veteran

    The Buddhist approach (attempted approach) is to open to our feelings, accept that they are there, and then relax into them ... while simultaneously being IN this moment.
    Not an intellectual exercise, but one of awareness and one that is furthered by our meditation experiences.

    Buddha-Dude
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    @federica I tried, as you suggested, to meditate in the car on Kelly. It wasn't easy, and I don't know that I accomplished the desired goal. She knew she was in bad health, and had told me that she didn't want me to be alone if she passed. So I have permission from her to move on, but maybe not myself.

    What I realized is that she was the one person I could count on, come hell or high water. That was something I hadn't experienced before, and it's loss is devastating. I don't know that I can find someone else willing and capable of doing that; there's certainly no one else in my life who fills that role.

    I've looked into grief counseling locally, and it seems the vast majority of them are Christian. I'm what would be considered a secular Buddhist; I accept the vast majority of the teachings on suffering, impermanence, etc., but have trouble accepting the supernatural elements. So I don't know that platitudes about existence in Heaven, or Bible verses are going to help me much.

    Buddha-Dudelobster
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Ok, something I've noticed in your posts (And PLEASE know this is not a criticism):

    Everything so far suggested to you, you have either refuted, or tried and failed...

    Would you think there is an element of self-blocking here? In other words, you appear to be subconsciously sabotaging your own efforts, and finding 'excuses' to either not do, or to try, and not succeed...

    Grief Counselling is non-denominational. Or should be, if the grieving person needs it.
    Keep looking and find someone who is neutral, or willing to counsel you in a non-theistic direction...

    So this is holding on.
    And there's no way you could ever forget your Girlfriend.
    So, if letting go, does NOT equal forgetting - what are you holding on to?

  • Buddha-DudeBuddha-Dude Canada Explorer

    @nakazcid Ive been married for 18 years. I would have to say that if my wife were to pass, it would be extremely difficult to let go. Even in the early stages of our relationship and marriage, we connected on levels I had never felt with any other person before.
    I can’t imagine what its like. I really don’t have any advice, just awareness of your struggle. That your situation has prompted me to explore in myself those feelings. Stay strong. We are here for you, in this community.

    nakazcid
  • Buddha-DudeBuddha-Dude Canada Explorer

    THERE IS A SACREDNESS IN TEARS. THEY ARE NOT THE MARK OF WEAKNESS, BUT OF POWER. THEY SPEAK MORE ELOQUENTLY THAN TEN THOUSAND TONGUES. THEY ARE MESSENGERS OF OVERWHELMING GRIEF, AND UNSPEAKABLE LOVE.

    • Rumi
    nakazcid
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    @Buddha-Dude Thanks. That helped. Kelly liked Rumi too.

    @federica I didn’t mean to imply that meditating in the car was a failure. Meditation can sometimes have results I wasn’t looking for, as happened last night. I’ll try again, but it’s a difficult thing.

    I am seeing a therapist, one I’ve known for a long time. I could ask him for a referral, but it feels like I’d be implying that he’s incompetent. Silly of me I guess.

    I’m not sure you understand what living in the American Bible Belt is like. Everyone automatically assumes you’re Christian, and acts accordingly. And if you’re not, you might as well be a two-headed alien. I’m afraid of running into that attitude if I try going through the local churches for support. I haven’t had any luck finding grief counseling that doesn’t rely on pastoral counselors.

    But you’re right about the self-defeating behavior. I’m going to try meditating in the car again tonight, and I’ll try some more googling for grief counseling.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @nakazcid said: I am seeing a therapist, one I’ve known for a long time. I could ask him for a referral, but it feels like I’d be implying that he’s incompetent. Silly of me I guess.

    I think if you explain the detail of your predicament, and ask him to help you find a non-denominational, or impartial specialist Counsellor, there is no reason he would think you believe him incompetent.
    Explain that to him.
    I am sure he would understand.
    In fact, he might well commend your seeking such counsel, and agree that you should seek specialist input.
    This kind of counselling may be beyond his remit.
    He may feel your quest to be entirely reasonable....

  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    So I took the car in to be appraised and test drive a couple of cars. They offered me $4400 less than what I owe on my current vehicle. So it looks I’m going to be stuck with it for quite some time.

    I’ll see if I can work up the nerve to ask my therapist for a referral. My next appt. is about a month from now.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    @nakazcid said:
    So I took the car in to be appraised and test drive a couple of cars. They offered me $4400 less than what I owe on my current vehicle. So it looks I’m going to be stuck with it for quite some time.

    Well done. That must have taken some strength on your part.

    (With regard to your 'holding on for the memory' issue, just having the car valeted may help. I'm not talking top-end limo stuff... Car cleaning spots run by Western European immigrants are two a penny, here, and the results are good and inexpensive...)

    I’ll see if I can work up the nerve to ask my therapist for a referral. My next appt. is about a month from now.

    Your therapist is well aware he's not the only one in the world. And he fully understands that he can't cover all the bases.
    As of course you are aware though, a Therapist can only give you the 'Guidebook'.
    The walk - is up to you. <3

Sign In or Register to comment.