Grief and The Holidays: Guilty Pleasure
This is the final part in our six part series and it feels appropriate to talk about guilt and pleasure in the finale.
I have a problem with the term guilty pleasure. Indulge me for one moment.
Pleasure (and I speak generally and within all legal limitations) should never be experienced through the lens of guilt. This idea just shatters my heart. My goodness friends feel pleasure wholly and fully when you feel safe to do so. In my not-so-secret opinion: Pleasure nourishes the world.
Ok – thanks for that.
We often have a really hard time feeling pleasure while we are grieving. I wrote a few blog posts early this year about the whole complex relationship of sex and grief earlier this year and the main theme, which I would like to bring forward to you here is that it is healthy to forget for a while.
It is healthy for you to laugh, to taste deliciousness, to dance to a favourite song, to smell home baking and feel safe. It is, without question, healthy to feel good even when you feel broken.
Guilt rears its ugly head in the split second, halfway through a laugh, when it catches your breath and reminds you that you are supposed to be sad. It tells you that you are a bad person for forgetting – how could you possibly feel good when your partner/sister/dog is gone and your whole world is crumbling around you!?
Forgetting, is actually really important to healing. It’s important because it forgetting reminds you that you can carry on. It reminds you that you are still surrounded by love. It reminds you that you can take a step forward, that you are still whole, that you still are. And, you are whole even though you feel broken.
So how can you stop feeling guilty for having a good time? Let’s review what is true about your remembering.
· You know that you will always remember your person.
· Not a day goes by where you won’t think of them.
· You don’t have to work hard to remember. It just happens.
Ok so if all your remembering happens for you, then perhaps the opportunity to forget for a moment can actually be viewed as moments of self-care? As moments of nourishment? As moments we need to help us continue to remember?
I had a client who was having a rough time after the loss of her sister. They were business partners who ran events together. My client was in the process of shutting down her business because she just couldn’t do it without her sister, even hiring people to take on that role felt like a betrayal. She would be in the final stages of preparing for a big event and just crumble to pieces. She couldn’t do it anymore. She said,
“it wasn’t so much that I was doing it alone, it was that I would forget tasks that she would always do and it would send me into a spiral. I forgot about her and just how important she was to everything.”
After working through a few spirals we got to a point where Amy was able to hire a couple people to take on Sue’s work and every morning Amy would put on one of Sue’s rings to as a token to help her remember that Sue is still there to guide her along. When I caught up with her last year I asked if she still wore the rings, she said,
“I do because, frankly I love them. But I don’t feel guilty if I don’t wear them. I know she would travel across space and time to tell me I picked the wrong colours. I channel that woman all the time. She is still here, even when I forget.”
Give yourself a break when you forget. Really sink into that brownie, a joke, a dance. Feel it all and baby step through the guilt. Bring a cufflink to a party, wear their scarf, don’t wash your sheets, feel them without guilt. Carry them with you even if you need a physical reminder. Hold that talisman while you eat a tub of ice cream and enjoy it thoroughly.
Your heart deserves nourishment and care, your body deserves to feel love and your mind needs to forget.
Thank you so very much for joining me on this little journey through grief at the holidays. May it find it’s way to and through the people you love, may it lead to rich new journeys, and may it find you steeped in belonging to yourself again.