Grief

Every year around the 27th of January, I think about grief, mostly because it’s an anniversary of the death of a friend, and every year, my little community who remembers her reflects and expresses our grief in varying ways.

Strangely, today I’ve found a different way to think about grief. This is a weird post to be writing, because I’m not sad or down at all today; it was a great day of funny happenings and good things like new paint in my apartment and exciting stuff at work. Yet in the midst of the day, a young colleague used the phrase “to grieve” in a different context, and my brain started writing.

This post is for those of you who have ever left a job. To be more specific, those of you who left a job you gave half a damn about. Doesn’t matter how you left; if you quit, got a better offer, had a baby, got downsized, decided to start your own business, got fired, whatever…you will get this.

I love my new job. I love my new life. I love living in Boston. I have absolutely no regrets about this change, none at all. I’m two months into my new adventure and the fun hasn’t worn off yet. I couldn’t be more excited about this next chapter.

Yet, the other day, I was trolling facebook and I saw a photo on the feed of my old employer. It featured my former staff enjoying themselves, doing good work, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t almost make me tear up.

What is up with that? There’s no reason for it. I’ve moved on, as they have, and when I was done being emotional, I happily hit the “like” button, smiled, and felt genuinely glad things are going well for them.

And yet there was that little pang, that little poke, and I wondered what caused it.

I figured it out today, thanks to the aforementioned email from the aforementioned colleague.

It’s grief. Grief, by definition, is associated with a profound sense of loss. It usually has to do with the loss of a person, but when you care deeply about something, anything, and you “lose” it, either by choice or by happenstance, you’re bound to grieve the loss of it.

“Time heals all wounds” is one of those clichés that is more often true than not, and I’ve found that grief changes over time. I don’t grieve for my friend with the breath-stealing hurt that I did in the months immediately following her death. I have passed through the necessary phases to allow me to leave my former job, one to which I gave 8 years of my life and more than a few thousand of my brain cells, and be happy – truly happy – about moving on. Yet, like those random days when I remember my friend, or my grandmother, long passed, or an old boss who died too soon, there are days when I still grieve for the place to which I gave my work.

I’ve thought, when these odd moments strike me, that I’m being foolish. That I’m being a “sensitive female” who lets her emotions rule her. That I need to suck it up and learn the cold art of living in the present and forgetting the past.

It was nice to realize, today, that what I’m feeling is a part of life, a part of transition, a part of dealing with the inevitability of change, time and distance. Moving on doesn’t mean forgetting, it doesn’t mean not caring, it doesn’t mean all grief goes away. It means accepting that our weird brains will give us little reminders now and again, just to make sure we’re remembering to be grateful for what we experienced, before.

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