This weekend was the Civic long weekend in Ontario and as per our long standing ritual, D and I spent the last few days with his extended family at the cottage, which is the first time we’ve been away all summer. By the time Friday rolled around we realized that we were both on edge and extremely tired; it was fairly evident that we were well overdue for time away from our normal routine.
Traditionally this weekend at the cottage has been reserved for D and his cousins – four boys- along with their respective families and presents a great opportunity for us to catch up with one another as well spend some time reading and relaxing, also known as basic cottage activities. We’ve been doing this for ages and it’s interesting to watch the dynamic shift as we get older, partners are introduced, and children welcomed. It’s always something we look forward to and this year was no exception. Everything went well this weekend and it provided a temporary reprieve from some of the stresses I’ve been dealing with. We left in great spirits. However, part way through our drive home the familiar feelings of sadness and anxiety began to creep back in.
Being away, if only for a few days, allowed me to feel “normal” again and think that maybe I was finally out of the woods but the moment I realized I was returning home, I also realized that my feelings still remained. And you know what? That’s OK. It’s OK for me to still feel sad and to continue being angry at how unfair everything is, not just with respect to my dad but to all the other losses I’ve dealt with. I’ve touched upon this before but I’ll say it again, too often we are told to try and silence those negative feelings in favour of the positive ones, and I don’t think that’s right. Sometimes what we need to experience is anger, sadness, frustration, and guilt. Somethings will always be upsetting and no amount of time, healing, or positivism will change it. While I may not feel those things quite as acutely with the passage of time, they will remain, ever present somewhere in the distance. Just as it is acceptable for me to feel love and gratitude for all the good I have, it too is acceptable for me to feel frustrated about my setbacks.
This is all fresh in my mind because just prior to setting off for the cottage my cousin posted a link to this book, “The Heart and the Bottle” by Oliver Jeffers, which tackles the issue of loss and grief. While the book is illustrated, do not be deceived: this is not just a children’s book because even as adults, there is so much we can take away, namely that we need to feel a whole range of emotions which include the good and the bad in order to properly feel at all. There are likely hundreds of quotes to demonstrate this point but the one that remains most poignant to me is one by Francis Bacon, “in order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present”. After my cousin’s original posting, this theme reappeared once again in a book that D’s cousin was reading, “The Upside to Your Dark Side,” by Todd Kashdan and Robert Biswas-Diener. Although the book doesn’t deal with grief specifically, I think the message is an important one for those who are grieving, and I’ve already added it to my reading list.
Here’s to hoping for better days but also understanding that feeling shitty is fine too.