Scrutiny is not something we expect after loss.
All of a sudden people think they have a say about the way you should live your life.
They have some kind of ownership.
And if you are not careful, all of a sudden your life becomes theirs.
You feel like you have to ask for permission every time you go out on a date.
You regress to the teenage years when your parents had to tell you what time you had to be home. You don’t only have to deal with your own fears and guilt but with your family’s needs about the direction your life should take.
When should you date again?
Are you selling your house?
How should you dress now?
Go on vacation?
And the list goes on.
What is going on here?
Did grief take our independence away?
I have received so many emails from people who tell me that their kids do not approve of the new partner in their life.
And that they feel betrayed in some way that they might be getting married again.
The one thing that has startled me the most is that I see fear in those emails.
Trembling and paralyzing fear.
Fear of disappointing everyone.
And in the end it is their life they don’t get to live because of that fear.
So we lock the doors to anyone new.
We lock our hearts so our kids don’t get mad at us.
And when we dare to get out and go and do what our heart tells us to do, we get punished with the silent treatment, with disapproving looks. With anger.
Your heart is confused since love is showing up in such a negative way.
The people who love you are now hurting you.
What is going on?
Why is loss so very complicated?
This letter is going to simplify this process.
Here it goes:
Period. No doubts about this whatsoever.
Grief does not have a real timeline.
People will tell you to wait for the right time to date.
They will tell you to not rush things.
But here is the thing I want you to know.
Grief is an inhuman experience taking place in a human body, it lives outside of time and space. It does not have a clock. And there will never be a wrong time for life to come back. It is always the right time.
If someone makes you laugh.
You spend time with them.
If someone makes your heart beat a little faster, you let them.
If you want to sell your house because it is really hard to live there, then you sell it.
If you want to go on vacation and spoil yourself, do that.
If you want to change careers because you are no longer that person, change your career.
You do what makes you happy every time. Haven’t you been punished enough? Why punish yourself more? Is it so important to obey the ‘invisible rules’of loss?
Your life after loss is nobody else’s business.
And for those who have kids with opinions about you dating again.
I want you to listen carefully.
Your kids absolutely have no say in who you kiss, who you sleep with and who you talk to. I understand this is harsh. I get it.
But they could never possibly walk in your shoes.
Don’t let them borrow them.
Your shoes do not fit them and they cannot walk in them.
Sit them down and tell them that you will always love them, but this part of your life is for you to take care of. It is truly none of their business.
Don’t over discuss this.
Hold them. Love them. But don’t ask their permission to love again.
One day, when they get to be your age and have the same shoes you have on, they will get you. And more than that respect your courage.
Now go and do what makes you happy.
Remember…. the time is always right for life to come in.
And anyone who is trying to stop your life coming back, should not be in it.
PS. Grab the book and go open those doors.