When you are in the process of grieving a loss of any kind, you must avoid looking ahead into the future. You are so devastated by the loss that you cannot envision the life that might have been. Your future memories with your loved one are over, and you must find your way via the path of the present, in order to venture forward. Your need for the terra firma of certitude, clouds your thinking, and your focus must be myopically limited to the now.
I proffer that the use of the word maybe might be of help. The word maybe appeared between 1375 and 1425, derived from the late Middle English phrase “may be.” It means possibly or perhaps. Maybe is the bridge between despair and hope. When you are in the midst of a journey through grief, if you look to the future, you might say “I will be alone forever,” or “how will I get through this?” But if you were to say “maybe things might not be so bad,” you can open a world of possible options that are more hopeful. The negative attitude in your head might be transformed so that you can now observe what lies ahead as: “maybe I will be ok,” or “maybe if I go through this process, I will find joy again.” Instead of being mired in unnecessary angst over what could happen, if you say “maybe,” you can see a glimmer of hope on the horizon. Maybe opens one up to the possibility of change as an adventure, rather than a fearful endeavor. Maybe is the link from being afraid and stuck with the endless unconstructive internal dialogue swirling in your head, to the path that is open and full of potentially happy possibilities.
I like using the word maybe, which affords me the time to regroup and think if I really want to accept an invitation. When in grief, you have to be able to take care of yourself. Sometimes, a direct no, is a bit harsh. Maybe makes it easier to hit the pause button and think. When I am asked if I want to go to attend an event, I might say “maybe if I can work out the timing.” By using maybe as a breathing space, I can take the time to asses if I really want to attend or not. I also use maybe as a tool instead of fretting over the minutiae of life. If I am worrying over a doctor’s appointment or even something as mundane as “what if the traffic is bad,” I try to turn my worry upside down and say, “maybe, I will sail straight through on the 405 freeway today?” Maybe can be a meditative technique to find positivity in stress.
Maybe can also have a negative connotation as when we asked our parents if we could go for ice cream and they said “maybe,” meaning, not a shot! There are the musings and wonderings around the word maybe, such as If Sonny Corleone had used easy pass, maybe he would still be alive? When you are at the doctor’s office and you might ask, “will it hurt?” He or she might answer maybe. Ouch!
I am going to adopt maybe as a positive tool to help me find balance in my life. If I start to get obsessed with thoughts of sadness, I will try to breathe and remember maybe, and the hope it engenders in me. Maybe gives me the wherewithal to step back and be kind to others. Being immersed in maybe, I can see hope, or at least, I can see a light to guide me through the rest of my journey of grief. Maybe it won’t work out? But, knowing that the ride will be interesting and transformative, boosts my confidence and optimism.