I have this theory- well it’s not just mine, but I wrote and teach about it a lot- that when someone we love dies we split our lives into before and after.
I’m very good at telling you if something happened before or after 2006, because I can remember if my mum was alive for it or not.
Grief is trying to live our lives in the before. We yearn for what life looked like before grief came in. We look for the people from our before. Grief is our bodies catching up to realise that we don;t live in the before anymore. We can’t stay in the before though, because time is marching on and the after stretches ahead of us.
But we can visit the before, that’s what remembering is. Allowing a few moments each day to remember, to grieve and to sit in the shadows of before. That’s what anniversaries and holidays and special seasons are for, trips back to before. When someone recalls a memory, and mentions their name, it’s like a phone call to the before. Visiting graves, or other sacred spaces are thin places where the before and after meet.
The before is the past, and we don’t live there anymore. There is huge pain in that, as there are people and places that we cannot bring with us, but we are in the after, and here there is life.