Bringing Out the List of What Ifs


Bringing Out the List of What Ifs

There are certain times of the year that I find very difficult. I find myself feeling a bit lost on the birthdays of loved ones no longer with me. The worst though are family holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Some years, like this one, I make it a whole season of grieving over the what ifs and the losses. At first, I just pause a little bit during Thanksgiving thinking about bygones and years past. Then, with a couple of key birthdays at the end of November, I start to feel rather sad and melancholy. By mid-December, I find myself swinging uncontrollably between being extremely excited about the season (baking up a storm) and feeling like an elephant is sitting on my chest.

I know it’s very important to grieve. I think that in many ways the reason I do go through this yearly cycle is that perhaps I didn’t take time to grieve completely. I felt bad and I was angry but I don’t think I ever just allowed myself to feel it all. No editing just feeling.

Truthfully, I thought that if I did feel, it might all be too much. I might scream until I was hoarse. I might cry until I couldn’t hold myself up anymore. In any case, I might never find my way back again.

Loss of Potential Experiences

I think grief is more than just about people. It’s about the loss of potential experiences. Probably more accurately about the fantasies we hold in our hearts.

Over the past few months, I’ve been working through this all. I’ve poked and prodded at every scar of loss or failure that I possess. Examining my feelings fully and looking at the hidden gifts in these difficult times. In the process, I’ve written and posted some really dark blog entries. The darkest, I kept for myself.

This morning though, I woke up feeling different. Not a new person. Not even renewed. Mostly, just sick and tired of hearing my own voice whining in my head.

Since then, two phrases kept going through my mind. So What. Now.

So What? Now

Each time, I’ve tried to bring up a loss and start with the what ifs, I’ve heard “so what?” Ouch. Pure callousness. I suffer. I’m sad. I can’t possible fix things. Things will never ever be the same again.

Once again, “so what?” People hurt. People fail. People grieve. That is life.


It was at that point that I began to really think about that small word, now. How many moments of now’s past had been passing in the last few months (years) without enjoying them? How many memories was I going to miss today because I was too busy beating myself up for things that couldn’t be changed?

Everything for a Reason

I realize that grieving is incredibly important but I think reliving the past, endlessly over and over again, isn’t really all that useful. I truly believe everything has a reason, every loss, every trauma, and every failure. Strangely though, it seems that the more we try to figure out that reason, the further we get from the wisdom we seek.

Yet, when we acknowledge our pain and accept the reality of now, eventually we do come to some sort of understanding. Transition takes time. One step forward. Find the small joy in this moment.