One of the hardest parts of loss that isn’t frequently discussed, is realizing that our loved one isn’t the only thing we’ve lost. I don’t think this is something that I immediately recognized or even noticed until almost two years after Kevin had passed away. It’s something that creeped up on me one day when I least expected it.
I was at my niece’s daughters 3rd birthday party. A winter theme which included sleigh riding, hot chocolate and a cozy bond fire in the backyard. So many parents participating playfully with their young kids. Laughter and joy permeated the crisp cool air.
One by one the children zipped down the snowy hill. Proud parents clapped and cheered as one by one each preschooler bravely made it to the bottom. What happened next could have never been predicted.
One tear after the other trickled down my cheek without warning. What should have been an afternoon filled with celebration and joy became a reminder of what was. What used to be. What was taken too soon. What would never be again.
I left the party soon following this sudden flow of emotion. I didn’t take good care of myself as I know to do, but instead went into my office and began frantically working on my business…..for hours. I didn’t quite understand at the time the meaning of my impulsive reaction to so much sadness.
The following Monday I shared my unexplainable behavior with a close friend. It was in talking it through that it began to make sense.
I didn’t just lose my husband and the father of our four kids. I also lost the middle man between the boys and I - my “get into boy activity free card” and I was desperate to grab it back. You see Kevin was my access to all boy activities. All the things that the boys did with their dad, I had a free pass to - playing football in the front yard, jumping in the car to watch a championship basketball game two towns over. Future spontaneous frat house visits with pizza’s to watch a big game. This wasn’t something that the boys and I did alone, but things we did all together. Trying to continue these traditions without Kevin felt out of the ordinary, almost forced.
After much untangling, this unexpected grief revealed my deep desire to create new memories with the boys just like the ones I was reminded of while watching parents sledding with their children at the birthday party. Just like the dad/son activities that provided me a free pass into the boys club.
I knew that if my business was successful, I would be able to purchase this place, perhaps a beach house, where new activities and traditions between four boys and their mom would be created, naturally.
I couldn’t connect the dots between grief and hard work. It wasn’t until I stepped back and let go that the confusion was untangled and buried emotions were revealed. More than a person was lost. Opportunities were also lost. Be willing to stay in the confusion. Clarity will be revealed. This is where we gain the power to reimagine and rebuild.