It's hard to let go of those we love, even when they have gone on to live in heavenly places. But for life and redemption to continue, we must let go and go on ourselves. Does this mean I will forget Beau, or deem him less worthy of my thoughts? Not at all. It means I can let go of the grief and the pain while remaining thankful for Beau's life.
So, as part of loving and letting go, I've planned a couple of little things to do to honor Beau on his birthday and home going. They may seem silly to you, but it works for me! :-) All year I've been saving hotel toiletries, and have three full bags to take to the Ronald McDonald House in memory of Beau and in gratitude to the RMH who comfortably housed us and supplied us with all we needed during our stay there. Then on Beau's home going day I'll head out to the cemetery and release a balloon to help me remember that he has indeed returned to the Father and I am free to let him go. A new day dawns and we hold the former days in our hearts with thanksgiving.
Nancy Guthrie, in her book Hope, writes of her own experiences of letting go:
"There is a tyranny in grief. We realize at some point that we have to figure out how to keep on living, how to incorporate the loss into our lives. We want to feel normal again, to feel joy again. But the energy and emotion of grief keeps us feeling close to the one we love or connected to what we've lost. Letting go of our grief feels like letting go of the one we love, leaving him or her behind and moving on. The very idea of it is unbearable.
I suppose we have a choice. We can hold on to the pain, accepting the misery it brings if it means we won't have to move forward with the emptiness. Or we can release it, process it, talk about it, cry over it, let it wash over us, and then let it wash away with our tears. We can make the painful choice to let it go-not all at once, but a little every day. We begin to find that we have the choice of whether or not we will let ourselves sink to that place of unbearable pain when the flashes or memories and reminders of loss pierce our hearts. And we can begin to make that hard choice. We can begin to let go of our grief so we can grab hold of life and those who are living. But I think the only way we can do that is by telling ourselves the truth-that if we choose to let go of the pain, or at least let it become manageable, it does not mean we love the one we've lost any less. And it doesn't mean that person's life was any less significant or meaningful, or that we will forget.
A couple of Sundays ago, a friend who had recently lost her husband stopped me after church to talk. "I cry at the office, cry all the way home, and then cry all evening," she told me ... while crying. And I cried with her.
"Wasn't your husband worthy of a great sorrow?" I asked her. When you love something or someone, the process of letting go is a painful one that takes some time, and it need not be rushed. Nor should it be avoided altogether. We feel the pain, mourn the loss, shed our tears, and with time we can begin to let go of the grief that has had such a hold on us. Perhaps it's not so much that we let go of our grief, but more that we give our grief permission to lessen its grip on us."
"Do you ever get over this?" I had asked Uncle Victor through tears. "No," he replied in a choked voice, "But you learn to live with it." Key word - live. And so we can indeed love, let go, and live.