The Gift of Letting Go
By Lori Welch Brown
The Gift of Letting Go
My brothers and I laid our beloved father to rest on December 19, 2020. It was a lovely service complete with military honors and a chorus of Amazing Grace. When he died on December 10 from complications due to COVID-19, he was 19 days shy of his 91st birthday. Yeah, he was 90 and lived a full life, yaddah yah. But, he spent the last nine months of his life virtually alone, and he died alone.
Planning a funeral while other people are planning Christmas menus and Hanukah festivities adds an extra layer of sadness to an already painful process, but it also felt like par for the course for this dreadful year. How else could this year possibly end but by ripping my heart apart?
It was a year plagued with worry and stress around COVID-19. How to keep from contracting it, passing it. To glove or not to glove? Masks definitely. The election. Forget it. The revolving news stories that seemed to just get worse with each passing day. Each and every one of us has been living with a level of stress humming in the background like a record we hate, but can’t shake. We have been in a constant state of worry about friends and family, jobs, businesses we love, maybe even rent and mortgage payments.
I laid in bed at night worrying about Dad. Was he getting the care he needed and deserved? Did anyone turn on Judge Judy for him? Did they help him cut his meat? When he said he was at Montgomery Wards was it a bout of dementia or the beginnings of a UTI? What if he fell? What if he ended up needing skilled nursing care? Could we afford it? If so, for how long?
Now my worries are gone, stolen away in the middle of the night. Dad is in a better place. He is at peace and reunited with Mom and my brother, Phil. If that’s what you believe, and I do. I have to. It’s what helps me get up in the morning. And, if we don’t have faith, what are we left with?
I am tremendously sad and grieving the loss of a great man. I’ve circled through anger, bitterness, and a plethora of emotions in the last hour. I cried so much the days before he passed that I thought I had exhausted my tears for eternity. The day after the service, I drove to North Carolina to rest and restore and found I could actually cry more.
I’m also trying to remind myself that there’s a lightness in letting go. Dad might not be here with me physically, but he is with me in spirit, memory, and forever imbedded in my heart. When he left his body, he took my worries with him. Now I know he is truly okay.
His passing is bittersweet. I have a Texas-size hole in my heart, but he is free from pain and suffering. I am free from worry. And while I don’t get to spend Christmas or his birthday with him, I feel as if his passing was his last gift to me. “Stop worrying, sweetie. I am okay—now you need to be. Let go and let God.”
As we strike out into the New Year, I hope we can all give ourselves the gift of letting go. Letting go of a past that no longer serves us. Letting go of worries that only burden us. Letting go of stress that damages our bodies. Letting go of anger and resentments that weigh us down. Letting go of negativity that scars our souls. Letting go of expectations that disappoint us. Letting go of fears that hold us back. Letting go of negative self-talk that is just the bullsh#t stories we tell ourselves. Letting go of shame that doesn’t deserve our time or energy.
There is a tremendous relief in letting go. It clears space for other, beautiful things to enter. We are all deserving of changes and newness that the blank slate of a new year has to offer. We each hold power over what (and whom) to fill our days, time, and mind with, and I hope that you chose to fill your moments with activities that make your heart sing, people that bring out the best in you, and thoughts that make your whole body light up.
Stay positive, strong, and healthy. Fill your body with fuel to keep it strong and energized for the bright days ahead because they are coming.
Wrap yourself in warmth and optimism and soak in the rays of a bright New Year filled with joy, health, and immense happiness.
Happy New Year!