Moving On – The Cost Of Not Grieving

Matt Coddington 
MDI Contributor

When I think of grieving, I always associate it with a person who has died.

Have I truly grieved the deaths of the people closest to me throughout my life up to this point? I have not. I’m not sure why. But I know deep down I haven’t. And I ask myself now, what is the cost of that? What price have I paid as a man, as a human being, for becoming numb and not honoring those people with my heart and love?

Why try and answer that? I think: just move on.

My first experience with death was with my father’s passing in 1980. I was 17; he was 73. That day held the most bizarre experience I have ever had, and will ever have. My mother and I went to the hospital and sat by the bed where his body lay motionless. That was my dad. “Move man, say something, you were just alive the last time I saw you! What the hell is going on here?” I had never seen a dead body before, let alone my father’s. I was afraid to touch him.  

Then it was time to go.

Time to move on.

I thought of him many times after that day, but as other family members began to pass away over the years, I became numb to death. I acknowledged their passing, but I stopped grieving. I loved all of them, including my mother.

My mother!

And I still do. And I miss them so very much, even terribly. But my heart became an iceberg, an impenetrable fortress against death and grieving.

Keep going. I have my own life to live. Move on.

I sometimes ask myself, in regards to this, am I an asshole? What is wrong with me? How could I not fully grieve the deaths of the people closest to me? It’s like I’m living in a dream-state where those people are no longer here, but they’re still here because I haven’t grown up enough to fully accept their finality on this earth.

I’ve just moved on. The iceberg has floated away with the current. And perhaps that’s what we all do anyway. Shit, I don’t know.

Maybe we have to move on in order to not go insane. I can’t bring any of them back … my mother, my father, my uncles, my aunts, or my cousins. Those I have lost, and those still in the living though distant, my sister and brother, I do consider them my true family, my true tribe. And how badly sometimes I want to go back in time so that I can have the life I once knew, with all of them back.

We all eventually move on.

I’m 57. I have more time in the rear-view mirror than in the windshield. I don’t always think about the people I haven’t grieved over enough, but they are always there, like a steady hum in the background of my iceberg of a heart.

Perhaps this is my way of honoring them and continuing to love them though they are gone. By not grieving, they’re always with me. They never left. They’re just somewhere else, and I trust they’re fine. Maybe this is my weird way of grieving. Shit, I don’t know. And I ask myself, would my father, mother, uncles, aunts, or cousins want me to be stuck on some lonely island … the Island of Grieving … or would they want me to acknowledge my love for them and then …

… move on?

Shit … I don’t know.

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