A friend once told me, “it’s important for us not to commiserate.” That phrase has resonated with me this past year. A lot of changes took place in 2013, the big one being losing my grandmother. She was probably the closest person to me. We had a rare bond. I lost her on Valentine’s Day. I thought this would make the first year anniversary unbearable, but I found that not to be the case. I surrounded myself with projects, fun and lots of friends. I didn’t wake up and mope around the house. I avoided introspection. I thought fondly of her, but not of her death. My memory of her is not dominated by three arduous days in the hospital. Because I kept busy and positive, I avoided falling into the depression trap. I held up in a way I would have thought impossible.
The other day I went with my paranormal investigator friends to the site of a historic massacre. I didn’t know what was in store for me or whom I would meet. Turns out the event was full of “psychics.” One of them spoke to me when three times her cell phone fell into lap from the wide arm of a chair. A strange occurrence, yes, but it doesn’t make it a paranormal phenomena. Anyway, this bizarre activity prompted her to talk to me about my grandmother. I know how psychics read people, so I didn’t give her much to work with. Admittedly, she got some very specific details right that floored me. I got sucked in. I allowed myself to think there was some connection, that there was some spiritual interaction going on between her and my lost loved one. While we didn’t go the Whoopi Goldberg “Ghost” route, I felt what she was doing was really positive. The skeptic in me has always been leery of supposed clairvoyants. The interesting thing about this one, was she didn’t hand me a card or even promote herself. We simply talked with me and stopped when clearly the conversation had ended. Nothing was forced on me and no money changed hands. Usually that’s where the exploitation takes place. At any rate, I relayed what she told me to my father. He found some solace in what she said. I thought this was a really good thing, whether fake or not. It made him feel better and that’s what mattered to me.
Then, I relayed this story to my significant other. He had a very different reaction, one that was quite negative. His words still run though my head, “Don’t let anyone shit on the memory of your grandmother. That’s your memory and not for anyone to exploit.” I’m probably paraphrasing a bit, but that was the sentiment. He was absolutely right. Stubbornly, I argued that she was doing something positive and not trying to profit off my loss. He told me it didn’t matter. She was giving us false hope and continuing the cycle of sadness. So, just like my friend telling me not to let our tragedies define us, he was saying that this was not her place. He was right. I didn’t need a stranger talking about a connection she knew nothing about. While it might seem harmless, the feelings it invokes are not. Sometimes the best way to handle loss is to keep the memory of that person and not speculate on where they are now or what they are thinking. Because, guess what? They are not. They are gone. That’s it.
Just like our tragedies and trauma, they are in the past. They can play a key role in making you who you are, but they are not you. Depression lies and tells you they are. Sadness does not need to define you. When you commiserate you hold onto the past. While being able to share your pain with another is one of life’s great comforts, it’s important for us to recognize that it can be unhealthy if that’s all you do. Human connection is good, but commiserating can quickly devolve into negative thoughts. Don’t let losing someone prevent you from living. Don’t let tragedy prevent you from the future you are destined to have or the one you can create for yourself. This is the year of change for me. This is the year where I stop holding onto the past and get a jumpstart on all the things that are in my future. Afterall, we don’t know when our time is up.
Valentine’s Day was not the one I expected. I was happy. I was living life and appreciating all that I have instead of concentrating on a deficit. Yes, I still love my grandmother. Yes, I still miss her. Yes, it still hurts to not be able to call her. That being said, how does being depressed honor her memory? She was a woman who lived life to the fullest and I intend to do the same. That is the Marie way. So, I raise a glass and toast this very cool woman who made my life more beautiful.