My mom passed away 2 months ago.
The month before that was intense with sadness, fear, hope..
Visiting her in the hospital, watching her suffer one blow after another. She was a strong woman but this was too much even for her. In the end all she wanted was to leave. And leave she did.
The deep sadness of the first weeks is now becoming lighter. It’s still there - just that I don’t feel it all the time. Mostly it happens when something reminds me she’s gone.
And there are also other times - for example when I’m with people I like and I should be having fun but suddenly realize I’m not happy. And I start wondering - why am I sad? And then recall - oh, I lost Mom!
I Have a Reason
And paradoxically - the fact I have a reason to be sad comforts me. Because being sad “without a reason” is somewhat scary. In my acquired cultural code - it somehow means I myself am not ok.
In our culture we’re expected to be motivated, think positively and never give up. Sadness is a sign of weakness. This “positive mindset” is most prominent in the workplace. But it seeps through into our private lives as well. In my early adulthood I’ve had a number of panic attacks that were brought on by sadness that I tried to ignore and disguise.
It Used to Be ok to Be Sad
This realization sent me wondering - when did I get infected with the “no sadness” virus? Because you see - when I was growing up - it was ok to be sad. My favourite bands were The Smiths and The Cure whose happiest songs are soaked in gloom. I remember being distressed for weeks because a girl wouldn’t love me back. And nothing about that felt wrong. Sadness was a part of life.
But then - as a grown middle-class man - I discovered that being sad isn’t something you do - because it makes one weak. Because sad people don’t succeed in capitalism and risk getting pushed down the social stairs - closer to the oppressed class. Which is quite a nightmare scenario for us honest middle-class working horses.
I found that if I’m unproductive in the workplace (and sadness often severely impairs productivity) - I risk getting criticized and eventually fired. So each time I felt a little blues I’d push it away or masquerade it with sarcasm.
Still a Part of Life
But now I finally realize I was wrong. We need to be sad sometimes. Life has a lot of sadness. As we greet each new day - we also depart from the day that passed. And if that day was happy - we have to live through the sadness of departure. Because seriously - if we don’t allow ourselves to be sad - how do we know what makes us happy?
I have a beautiful life. It’s full of love and friends, excitement and hope and yes - also sadness, fear and pain. That’s what makes me complete. That’s what makes this life worth living.
I love you, Mom.