Grief and Guilt
I was recently asked if I held guilt of any kind as it relates to the loss of my son, Conner. I immediately answered, “no.”
Too hasty an answer? Yes
My hasty response came primarily out of my connotation of the word “guilt.” After all: I’m not Catholic (nor was I raised Catholic). *no offense to those of you who are Catholic, but I know you chuckled when you read that.
To me, the word guilt is associated with an act of wrongdoing and sometimes connected to a particular dogma (not a fan of dogma either, but that’s another post). I digress: I did nothing wrong, per se, hence the reason my answer came so quickly and so effortlessly. I still stand by that statement (“I did nothing wrong”) but upon further reflection, I do feel something that, if not guilt, must be quite closely associated. This feeling is not directly connected to the death of my son, but directly connected to my grief surrounding the loss of my son.
But first, you should know I’ve had many misfortunes in my life. That said, I have also had many impressive opportunities/things placed in front of me:
The month before Conner was taken from us, I had the pleasure of spending time in Santa Barbara, California enjoying life with my friend Johnny Aspra, aka Cowboy Johnny.
My son was gone 6 weeks later.
Since losing my son, I have been treated to the following travel experiences (some enjoyed with friends and some enjoyed alone):
Orange County California: sailing, bike riding on the coast, driving (a Jaguar) along PCH, drinking (and learning about) vintage wine, good food, great company.
Hilton Head Island (which is where I began Guided by Grief: Always Remember)
Texas Hill Country
Christmas week at a luxury resort in Montana.
I’m writing to you now from Switzerland (I’ve enjoyed many parts of this beautiful country!)
The UK (London)
Santa Cruz, Bolivia
New York City
In a few days I’m heading to:
The UK, Morocco, Tunisia, back to The UK, maybe onto Ireland, Switzerland, a luxurious Cancun Resort for Christmas week and back to The States for a bit. WHEW!
I’ve probably forgotten some places (grief brain is a real thing). But, the point is this: I rarely share about my travels, I think because I do harbor some guilt about “enjoying” my life after having lost my son. After all, he doesn’t get to enjoy life, so maybe I shouldn’t either… have you ever felt that way after a loss? It’s so common.
I have challenged myself, and I am challenging YOU, to enjoy your life. Even though your loss, as mine does, punctuates each moment, I challenge you to try and embrace the joy in and accept all of the abundance that comes your way.
In doing so, you are also honoring your loved ones who have gone before you -- because I’ve recently been told they “are okay and want you to be okay too.”
This post is dedicated to Johnny Aspra. Rest in Peace, Cowboy Johnny. #FuckALS
#guidedbygrief #guiltfreetravels #bittersweet