Lately, my days have been filled with love, laughter and meaningful work. While sailing on unusually calm waters, I'm thinking of my loved ones who are negotiating rough seas. Instead of feeling guilty at my current good fortune, I feel increased gratitude. I must feel joyful to honor them.
An entertaining NYTimes Modern Love column captured the sentiment well. Escape from a Dire Diagnosis Using Match.com tells the story of two life-long girlfriends. Nance conspires to find Vicky a new love as a distraction from her cancer treatments. Vicky goes along, because she'd do anything for her dear friend.
Thanks to Nance's encouragement to keep going after a few unsuccessful dates, Vic found "the one." While falling in love, Vic felt unsettled by a sense of betraying her friend. "How could I fall in love at 50 while my best friend struggled to hold on to her life?"
Vic marries. Nance dies.
One morning, while Vic laughs heartily at her husband's "hilarious morning monologue," she savors the pleasure, in honor of Nance. She knows nothing would make her friend happier than knowing Vic was enjoying her married life.
I tackled the issue of survivors' guilt in GUILTY and came to the exact same conclusion.
Life is for the living. Healthy Survivors strive to turn survivors' guilt into heightened gratitude. The best way to honor the memory of a loved one is to grieve, so you then can fully embrace what joys remain.