What Does Charlie Brown Know that I Don’t Know?
By Peggy Amler
Grief has been such a major part of my life these past sixteen months. The assignment given to each of us in the bereavement group this last week was to think about what we hope life will look like on the other side of grief.
Good Grief! What an assignment!
Wait a minute …. That phrase … literally, I mean… Charlie Brown says that!
Charlie Brown, the lovable loser, says Wikipedia… my inspiration? The all-knowing imparter of life philosophy? Yes, Charlie Brown will teach me how grief is good! If I learn that, then maybe I will know how to get to its other side! So I read more of Wikipedia’s Charlie Brown review…
Charlie Brown frequently suffers, and as a result is usually nervous and lacks self-confidence….
-Well, I have suffered in the loss of my David, and in being alone I sometimes
Charlie Brown shows both pessimistic and optimistic attitudes….
- Well, so do I … on any given day!
Charlie Brown, on some days is reluctant to go out because his day just might be spoiled. But on others, he hopes for the best and tries as much as he can to accomplish things.
–Me too ! Some days are better than others, but I continue to persevere and be productive.
Yup, Charlie Brown and me! We are both basically shy and kind-hearted, generous, determined and resilient. Well, who would have guessed! O.K., this is all really exciting, but I haven’t yet discovered how grief is good. How will I ever get to its other side?
Let me think…. If I look back on where I started from, then perhaps I will gain a perspective on where I am going.
I started from living day to day, just getting through the excruciatingly painful initial period of losing David. That lasted for about a year. I longed for him to be here with me in the physical word… still do. I knew he was gone; and I also knew that it was a sacred journey he was on- far beyond the realm of my involvement. I wanted him so much to be with me, yet I knew it wasn’t to be. So I decided next to do everything within my abilities to honor him after he had passed by responding to all sympathy notes and donations, and writing acknowledgements to those who were an integral part of helping him survive and then ultimately pass in peace, comfort and dignity. Letters continued to come in for a year. The finances and legal matters were addressed, and the house, too.
So now what? Where do I go from here? I haven’t nearly the distractions any longer to give me purpose. I guess I am headed down a road where I have to re-define my life and re-write my script. I know that David would want me to be happy and to go on living life to the fullest, so I have his permission. I know he would be cheering me on. I just have to walk down the road to find the answers.
I am so deeply grateful that I was there for David, and now I must be here for myself.
So here I am, looking forward while holding onto the past. I once read in a card that it’s not where you’re standing that matters, but what direction you are facing. As I walk down this road, I am facing forward and hope to get to a place where I will find peace. Along the way I hope to figure out how to find happiness, and how to be comfortable in being alone without being lonely. I need to find a purpose and fulfillment within myself, daily.
So, I still don’t know what Charlie Brown means when he says, “Good grief!”
But I do know that I can’t hold him accountable for knowing if he hasn’t walked in my shoes. In my grief journey, I have learned that grieving is good. Like a child, it requires attention. If ignored, it will make its presence known until its needs are met. I believe that grief will always be a part of my life – it’s depth being a reflection of the depth of David’s and my love. However, I believe, too, that as time goes on grief will not determine my emotions for the day. I believe that I will make a new life for myself, and I hope to enjoy living. I am told that grief re-writes your address book, so I am looking forward to new friendships in this new life. I hope to have good times and I hope to feel good about coming home alone. I might not be happy in the same way as I was before, but I hope to feel content, satisfied with life’s gifts, and grateful for its blessings.
This is what I hope for.
That’s a lot … good grief!