There is a difference between moving on and going on.

So much of our culture is uncomfortable with pain, and the pain of loss is no different. There is an underlying sentiment in our society that if we ignore it, it doesn’t exist. Loss exists. Loss exists for a long time, perhaps a lifetime.

The exhortations from love ones to move on are well intentioned, but misguided. Maybe I’m misinterpreting what they are saying, but the implication is to put the past behind me. It’s over. Now move on. I have yet been able to “move on.” And really, I’ve found no need to heed their loving advice.

What I have found is that I go on. A crucial element to my going on is allowing myself to feel whatever needs to be felt. That is absolutely essential in my reintegration into a new relationship with life. And this reintegration process appears to be a lifetime experience.

Just the other night Rachel and I watched the movie, “Dallas Buyers Club”. It opened a floodgate of memories. Lydia, Matt, Bryan and I lived in Dallas during those times. Lydia was nurse working with families and children with HIV. I worked extensively with the HIV community. Looking at the emaciated bodies and KS lesions, listening to the discussions about AZT and alternative treatments, and especially watching the role of the FDA and our own personal race against time that time ultimately won brought back so many emotions. We lived every one of those experiences.

Moving on is not an option. Going on is. I went into those memories. Felt the anger and he waves of sorrow at the hell we went through and the longing to be there again, to go back in time just to hold them one more time.

Everybody grieves differently. In my experience I lean into my sorrow because I have found a path within my Afterloss that takes me to the expanse of compassion and love. If I just hold on, without judgment, without resistance, without closing down, I find healing.

My brother, Skip, lived through those Dallas days, too. He saw the movie before I did and warned me. Why did I see it? I’m am not in the camp that says, “If you ignore it, it doesn’t exist.”

I am the collection and summation of all of my experiences – my joy, my sorrow, my living, my dying…. The elephant in the room is me. If I refuse to accept any part of what I experience I will live in fragmentation. Fragmentation and separation hurts far worse that weaving all of me into all of me. It’s the ticket price for admission to a full and meaningful life. And I’ll pay that price any day and every day.

Life is a package tour and everything I’ve gone through, everything I go through and everything I will go through is part of that package. I can’t pick and choose, but I can choose to get the most out of it.

I was born to live. I was given this life for reasons unknown, but nonetheless, I’m here. I embrace every moment – good, bad or ugly. I hold the ones I love with tenderness as I go from moment to moment. I will never move on. But I hope I will always go on.

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