I think one of the most common thoughts that come up in all kinds of grief is the thought that whatever happened shouldn’t have happened.
The child shouldn’t have died, he was too young and had so much ahead of him.
The mother shouldn’t have died, her family needs her.
The wife shouldn’t have died, she was such a good person and she touched so many lives.
The baby shouldn’t have died, he was so innocent and was so loved.
He shouldn’t have lost his job, he is a good worker and he has a family depending on him.
She shouldn’t have gotten cancer, she takes such good care of herself.
And of course, we are right in terms of justice.
But it isn’t true because it did happen.
If you showed a jury the evidence, I’m sure they would agree with you. Whatever happened was wrong, but it still happened.
To paraphrase Byron Katie, you can argue with reality, but you will lose 100% of the time.
They did die, he did lose his job and she did get sick. Those are facts that could be proven in a court of law. Any other arguments will only prolong the pain.
Your brain loves to solve problems. The continuous thinking of should haves is putting your brain on a continuous loop to try to find an answer or solution for it. There are no answers, so your brain keeps churning in unproductive and sometimes destructive ways. It’s a game that can’t be won.
Only suffering can come from the “should haves” and not accepting reality.
Releasing the “should haves” doesn’t condone what happened.
It means accepting it.
Accepting your loss doesn’t mean you have lost faith or that you are letting anyone down.
Not accepting something doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.
Acceptance doesn’t mean anything, including your grief, is over.
It did happen. Your acceptance or non-acceptance won’t change it.
But it will change you.
Thinking that something shouldn’t have happened only brings pain.
Acceptance can bring a pain as well, but it will feel different. It will feel like truth.
It’s the kind of pain that you can push against to make meaning out of your loss and to move forward.
It isn’t that churning, twisty and unyielding pain that comes from not accepting what is.
The truth is, you may not feel ready to accept your loss. The loss may be recent or very sudden and accepting it doesn’t feel available right now and that’s okay. Grief is different for everyone and you must be gentle with yourself along this process. I want to you to be aware though that it can be an option for you and by accepting your loss you can free yourself of some of the pain you are feeling.
Ultimately, the decision to accept your losses is a decision you make to ease your own suffering. It isn’t a selfish decision, but a very practical and wise one to make.
Your loss is still terribly unfair, but knowing that it is reality and it’s the truth will make room for healing and give you the opportunity to live your life with less pain.