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The Hardest Part of Grieving: Feeling Misunderstood

"If you have had a happy relationship and experienced love, in my view, it is a compliment to your partner if you want to experience that again. The love for your lost partner will be ever present, but our human hearts are capable of unlimited love and have room for future relationships."

Q: What’s The hardest part of Grieving?

A: Talking with close friends and family about the what’s on my mind about future relationships and then feeling misunderstood.

Happy Friday! To do difficult things means to post about this rather sensitive topic I've been discussing lately and then go for a run. Not sure how both will go as I'd rather go back to sleep. I look forward to sharing on lighter topics throughout the rest of the month.

After attending Man Camp, I've found even more interest in dedicating time to dive deeper into my relationship with Teri. I read all her paper journals and all our email exchanges, which we heavily relied on during a period of separation in late 2020. The process has been time-consuming, but incredibly humbling. I'm currently making my way through our extensive collection of photos and her journals in OneNote. The value of this introspective journey is priceless, as I'm still eager to share my experiences with anyone who's interested, whether in person or through Zoom.

I believe that grieving this way has provided me with unique insights into myself and equipping me with valuable tools to assist my loved ones who may be wrestling with their own relationship challenges. If you're seeking advice for your own situation, I offer a simple suggestion: practice humility. Take the initiative to be the first to listen and understand, rather than striving to be understood. Teri and I also took the Relationship Lifeline course in late 2018 and the How We Love class in 2021 and 2023. These resources can offer invaluable guidance on navigating relationships successfully.

After we took the How We Love course the first time, Teri and I made a daily practice of using the comfort circle. Initially I found it quite bothersome, uncomfortable, and awkward. I had other pressing matters on my mind and preferred discussing practical things like our schedule and budget during our Saturday 10:30am "Logistics Meeting." However, once we got the hang of it, it worked wonders and gave us renewed hope that communication wouldn't always be a struggle in our marriage.

One significant lesson I learned was that I took Teri's commitment to improving our relationship and communication for granted. I love to work. My enneagram is 3w4 and I spend most of my workday in organizing stuff in Spreadsheets and PowerPoint slides that have little to do with feelings. I never realized how much would miss talking about feelings until now. It's probably why I find myself writing here frequently and seeking guidance from my therapist. Teri often expressed feeling misunderstood in our relationship, and reading her journals helped me grasp that now. I was too preoccupied with work and didn't take the time to truly listen and empathize. After a long day of work, my ADHD brain was usually scattered and unfocused in our conversations until she became upset. But it's okay; I can learn from these mistakes and be more mindful in my interactions with others moving forward.

So, how do I feel right now after going through spending my time grieving and learning as much as I can about my relationship with Teri? I have a renewed interest in being in a relationship. How confusing, but it does make sense to feel this way the more I think about it. I know it sounds like a terrible idea to most, including me. She passed away less than three months ago. Don't worry—it won't happen anytime soon.

I understand this might surprise most people, considering how much I talk about missing Teri. Let me try to explain using an analogy I that came to mind when I shared my YouTube channel with Teri's small group last week. Encouraging people to sign up for their first triathlon and watching videos of my old races really made me want to participate in another one. I don't like watching or waiting for life to just happen. However, I remind myself that a race might be a distraction, and I am supposed to focus on grieving. For a new relationship to flourish, I guess I should allow my heart to heal from its brokenness? While that makes sense and this is what all the books say, I still feel misunderstood. Deep down I'm not bought into this plan. I also feel confused and frustrated. What if my heart doesn't feel broken and I'm ready to move on? Am I just being impatient? Selfishly, I desire comments on this blog to read, "Erwin, you’re doing great. Life is short, just go out there and meet someone and see how things go. I'll help you plan a wedding during E40." I know everyone means well and wants what's best for me, so I give them the benefit of the doubt.

Teri had an opinion on this. I am immensely grateful that we had the difficult conversations about death and our hopes for each other in the comfort of our home, rather than at the hospital. I can't imagine having to discuss this while we were in the hospital that last week in March, and my last piece of advice for you today is to have these difficult conversations with your loved ones. Please read this book. Don't wait until it's too late. We discussed her hopes for me if she were to pass away and she didn't hesitate to recommend that I consider remarrying. It caught me off guard, and I felt a bit offended by her tone, but I guess it was still thoughtful of her. Then she added, "Erwin, if you were to pass away, I don't think I'd want to remarry. I'd probably just move back to Atlanta." She doesn't typically use sarcasm, so she probably meant it. I can't blame her, considering the challenges we faced in our marriage. That's also why I'm glad her ashes are there and hope to visit Atlanta in the near future.

I also asked Teri what were her hopes for me with life in general. More importantly than finding love again, she said she wanted me to have a real authentic relationship with God. To stop just going through the motions. I'm so thankful for that reminder as I reflect on this topic even more. She had every right to say that because of how she was living and where she spent her free time when she found out about her cancer. While I miss her so much and would rather talk with her about feelings than post on this blog, I’m so thankful she was truly ready to meet Jesus and I am that we will meet again and will do the comfort circle.

And with that, I conclude my sharing for today. Maybe I will sign up for a race this year since its less controversial? Not sure, but always open to ideas. While I did meet Teri online, I will tell you that online dating and putting myself out there to meet someone new seems like a lot of work, so that won't happen anytime soon. Please pray for me to maintain a humble heart as I continue seeking guidance in this area.

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