Someone I dated years ago passed away recently, and I’m finding that it is deeply affecting me. I was already sliding into my seasonal emotional challenges (damn you Daylight Savings Time), and then I received word of the tragic death of someone who I planned to build a life with at some point. It’s left me feeling all kinds of things.
My relationship with him wasn’t the healthiest, and there came a time when I saw that clearly and made moves to get out. It was during that season of my life when I really was thinking about my future, my desire to have children, my desire to adopt, my career, my life plan. When I realized that I didn’t want to have a family with him, I knew that my desire to be a mother was much greater than my affection for him. Going back to school to do a doctorate was a part of my plan, but then it became a part of my exit strategy for that relationship.
As I sit here pondering this loss, I am struck by the direct line from him to Hope. That relationship set me on a course that brought us together. Sure, everything before that probably did as well, but that season is when I started being really deliberate about moving in ways that brought me to mothering Hope.
And even though the relationship ended many years ago, the connection, that line, is still there, and I grieve his death. I didn’t keep in touch; I occasionally stalked him on social media to see how life was treating him. I saw his triumphs and struggles. I wanted no contact, but I hoped for a good, long, healthy life for him.
Unfortunately, It wasn’t meant to be for him, and that saddens me greatly.
I’m also surprised how lonely this grief feels. It’s not like I’m going to go around telling a bunch of folks (besides, ironically, my blog readers) that I’m so sad over the death of an ex-boyfriend who was emotionally toxic and who I split from nearly 10 years ago. I mean, life continued and worked out great for me, right? Sure his death is sad, but why am I sad? I’m sad because we shared a connection and there were good memories too, and although I couldn’t be with him, I genuinely wished him well.
I imagine this kind of grief is similar to what my daughter and other adoptees may feel, not quite but a few parallels at least. It seems almost impolite to talk about it. I mean, sure you lost people, relationships, but adoption should’ve cured all those emotions and isn’t that great? Why are you still grieving? I don’t mean to compare the loss of an ex-boyfriend to the loss of a parent and extended family, but the inability to express grief without folks questioning your grief at all—that, that somehow feels like there may be some parallels there.
There is a longing for what could’ve been. There’s a longing for the change you hoped would happen but never did. There’s the sadness of the separation and the disappointment that reunion didn’t or couldn’t happen. Then there’s just the heaviness that it will never happen because they are just gone, forever gone. It’s painful, and yes, it’s lonely.
Grief sucks. It sucks so badly.
So, as I sit with these emotions and I ponder the connection between that man and the life I enjoy today, I am grateful for that experience and for his insertion in my life. I’m hopeful that he has found peace on the other side.
To adoptees and others experiencing grief, however it comes to you, it’s ok to feel what you feel. You are not alone, and I hope that you are surrounded by people who get it, who get you, and who understand your pain and facilitate your healing.
November 19th, 2018 at 1:38 pm
And yes, you’re right, you’ve always seemed to get it down deep.
November 19th, 2018 at 3:50 pm
❤ Thanks. I try, I don't always get it right, but I'm trying. ❤
November 19th, 2018 at 10:17 pm
I used to go to this homeopathic pharmacist who I really liked – I saw him 3 or 4 times a year and one day went to his shop to find it closed. I went to the shop next door and that guy told me that my pharmacist was killed in a car wreck 2-3 months before. I was so stunned and felt this overwhelming sense of loss that I still can’t explain. But that was an aha moment for me. If I felt that emotional for a kind man who I barely knew imagine how these kids feel grieving over foundational relationships, holidays, the what am I going to do nows, and the what might have beens.
I am sorry for your friend and the loss of an important relationship – whatever form it had shape shifted into.
November 20th, 2018 at 2:09 am
I’m so sorry, dear ABM. Grief can be confusing sometimes. I was thinking about my Dad the other day. He died a couple years back, two months almost to the day after I lost my mom. I didn’t really grieve my mom’s death – I mean, of course I felt the loss, still do, still miss her … but we’d had time to say all the I-love-yous, we had a sweet goodbye, and she was so tired. It was time for her to go. I couldn’t begrudge her that. But when my Dad died … I kind of felt nothing. It’s the opposite of what you’re experiencing, but similar in that it’s confusing – who do you talk to about such a thing? With him, too, I’d taken care of all the old raggedy business. I’d done everything I could to be the best daughter he would allow me to be. And I’d long accepted that I would never be enough. With him gone, I grieve what might have been – but the reality of what was? Really, not so much. Every now and then, something – like this post of yours – makes me think of that. I poke the space he left, like looking for a hurt where a tooth was extracted. It’s always a bit weird that there isn’t anything there.