The Natural Progression of Life

grief progression


With new responsiblities at work, the end of an intensely hard semester at school, and now with the holidays requiring a brief return to Canada to be with my family, I have had not a spare moment to sit down and write.  But seeing this picture stuck with me so profoundly, I couldn’t resist taking a moment to share it.

I came across this picture the other day and I cannot even begin to describe how much it stuck with me.  The simplistic beauty of the progression through life: childhood innocence to tragic loneliness.  I have never claimed to be special or different or even the only one to ever experience loss.  But this picture shows the natural progression through life and that is how it should be.  That is what I was robbed of.  This is what has been taken from me.

I am angry because we never got the chance to grow old together.  This is what our life should have looked like.  I have been told it is OK to feel this way but it still feels wrong to feel this resentful and angry.  Zach, you and I should have had the opportunity to become withered, wrinkled, old, and needing a cane together.  We should have been able to experience a full life together, but now all I can do is watch as life passes me by.  A numb observer of my own life.

Right now one of my best friends is going through something I would never wish upon her and I can only try to send her as much love as possible because I know I can’t take the hurt away.  It hurts my heart because although our situations are different, I completely understand the anger she feels looking in on other people’s lives, happiness, and joy.  Its hard.  It is so damn hard.  The bitterness you unwillingly feel knowing you don’t have the same thing everyone else does is an unmerciful master which threatens to consume you.

So what is the answer?  What do you do when you resent what others have?  Do you hide away, distance yourself from friends because you don’t have what they do, avoid Facebook so you don’t become hostile seeing pictures of their happy lives?  I think that answer lies within each of us because each of us will feel better doing different things, but I know what has worked for me even if it is only a slight help.

I know I am not the only one to feel this way so I wanted to take a moment today to remind everyone of the same thing I am trying to teach myself.  It is OK to feel resentful that your life doesn’t look like everyone elses.  It is even OK if you find yourself withdrawing like I have because it lessens the anger you feel even if only remotely.  It is OK to be angry that you will never have everything you always dreamt of.  I know its OK.  I remind myself of that.  But how to fix it?  Your guess is as good as mine.


7 comments on “The Natural Progression of Life

  1. Laure says:

    Yes, it is okay….I just wish neither of us had to find that out. First Christmas without my boy and with a forever fractured heart. The sadness has become suffocating and so bad I can taste it in my throat, it makes me sick. And I have had to limit my time on facebook and hide certain posts….it is what it is. Peace

    • brenner1543 says:

      Laure, I too wish neither of us had to find this out but unfortunately here we are. I hope this first Christmas for you was somewhat bearable. I won’t say I hope it was OK because I know it can’t possibly be. Thinking of you.

  2. Kathy says:

    Wow, an amazing picture. You do have the right to be angry. I get angry when I see someone my mom’s age or older, but then feel guilty about it. I think of how my mom should be here, sharing life with her family. I know it’s so different than what you are experiencing, as you lost your soul mate and I lost my mom. But I do understand what you’re feeling, even if our circumstances are different. I wish you the best for the holidays. Take care.

    • brenner1543 says:

      Kathy, I know you understand the anger over life not progressing the way we imagine it to. Thank you for always sending good thoughts my way and taking the time to share with me.

  3. paradisemanifest says:

    Beautiful post, as always. Anger is an easier emotion than sadness. Sadness shows weakness and anger mimics strength. It is much easier to hate those people who are posting happy moments that you are without, and to despise people’s happiness than it is to accept that your own reality is different.

  4. Stephanie says:

    I’m not sure how I managed to skip the anger and go straight to the bottomless sadness, but that’s the way it’s gone. I agree with paradisemanifest: in many ways, anger is easier. It is profoundly easier for me to handle the children who are loaded with diffuse anger about losing their dad and have no one upon whom to take it out than me, because I understand anger and anger cannot be sustained forever. But it seems impossible to dig out from or have a clue how to help when our children are mired in sadness. It’s as if at least anger has an outlet, while sadness seems internally to build on itself and doesn’t ever feel “vented.” The tears never stop coming, but the angry outbursts have a more limited cycle and I know they’ll pass.

    As with all things, I try to react more like I know my husband would have, had it been me who suddenly discovered that I was to die soon: that there would be no more time with my partner, our children, no more of the work I loved, no retirement years or grandchildren, nor even seeing my oldest child graduate. And what he would have done is to remember and miss me, and enjoy what he had left without me: our family and friends and work. He would have been there much sooner than I ever may be, and would not have struggled the way I do with simply not wanting to be the one left left behind. There’s no “fix,” of course, but I have been surprised: I thought, for example, it would be traumatic to attend his friend’s wedding without him, but I joined in as he would have, for both of us, and it turned out to have been a truly joyful experience because I was happy for his friend. It wasn’t a reminder of what I’ve lost–though it was hard when all of the married couples were asked to dance together–so much as happiness that someone else has found what my husband and I had, too briefly.

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