12 Apr Learning to Let Go

I’m not going to lie, it has been a rough few weeks. My world felt like it turned upside down when my Uncle and Godfather died suddenly at the beginning of March. He is my dad’s brother who is married to my mom’s sister. (You may need to reread that.) He was a veteran, a lover of golf, and a funny, loving man who has been a keystone in my family for my whole life. (One of my cousins wrote this WONDERFUL obituary that really captures who he was, if you’re interested.)

Partially due to the double family connection, I have always been exceptionally close to them and still vacation with those members of my extended family frequently. My heart just breaks for my beautiful Aunt, my Dad, my cousins, my Mom, his other siblings and family… it has been a hard time.

Death has a way of putting everything on hold. I flew to Florida to spend time with my family and attend the memorial. It was a whirlwind 60 hours full of hugs, uncontrollable sobbing, hearing stories about my uncle, and lots of laughing. That weekend existed in a bubble for me, a precious pocket of time with my immediate and extended family, and it was so necessary in order to even start to understand what had happened. Back in California, the grief came in waves. But it was easier to ignore when I had my life to keep me busy- classes and workshops, work, auditions, and everyday tasks.

And then suddenly, a good family friend and one of my mom’s best friends died of cancer. She went into the hospital and seemed to be doing fine, but a few days later things turned critical and the doctors realized she didn’t have long. Her children, who I was very close to growing up, got on planes to fly across the country and say goodbye. They didn’t make it. And the tragedy and utter cruelty of that situation is something I cannot comprehend.

Suddenly, the entire month of March was over. Time was passing with an oddly staccato-like rhythm; I was either moving through work in a fog, or stalling in crippling grief that hit me in sudden and unforgiving punches.

And in all of this, I found myself scolding myself for not moving forward fast enough in my career. Where was the energy to research new projects, meet up with fellow creatives, and continue working on writing my scripts? I should be able to experience my grief AND stay as productive and driven as always. But I just couldn’t. I felt that I was holding on so tightly to my career aspirations that I wasn’t leaving any room for them to actually manifest. Not to mention the fact that I was trying to ignore the grieving processes I was going through. I needed to let it go. (Go ahead, I won’t judge you if you break out into song.)

On the first of April, I decided that I needed to put my focus on my health. For the entire month of April, no matter what was going on work-wise, my first priority was going to be my health; drinking more water, working out daily, flossing (I know I should, but I don’t), eating more greens, and possibly things I haven’t done in a while like getting a wellness exam and scheduling a massage.

I felt guilty about not pushing myself to work as hard as I thought I should, but I also knew that stepping back was necessary. And it has already helped me refocus in so many ways.

In the first 10 days I have been getting more sleep, doing yoga and running (and I actually want to, because I am prioritizing it!), and I’ve felt a shift as I give myself permission to take care of myself (no, I haven’t been perfect in my health check lists every day, but hey- I have flossed 8 more times than I would have otherwise!).

At the same time, letting go of the focus on my career has actually allowed things to progress! I got a fun audition for a network TV show, I was part of a table read of a female-driven sci-fi feature, I’ve designed some creative mailings, and I now have a plan for my next YouTube adventure (the 99s videos were fun, but I want to make my own stuff and ideas keep popping into my head!). I am keeping my focus on health for the rest of the month, and I look forward to seeing where it takes me. I already feel…dare I say…happier.

There are still moments of pure grief, but I’m allowing the process to be what it is. I’m learning to let go of what I think my life is suppose to look like. Life is precious and fragile, and in this time of rawness I am trying to keep myself open to whatever comes.

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  • Pearl Klein
    Posted at 09:43h, 11 June

    Sarah, when my father died, I had the great good fortune to be able to put everything on hold for a very long time. If’ I’d had a job working for someone else, I might have been able to put aside a piece of me in order to plunge into work, and sometimes I craved that, but those waves of grief laid me out completely instead, and I let myself be battered into submission. I hope you’re able to put aside the self-scolding in your search for health; it helps no one, least of all the ones you’ve lost.

    • Sarah J Eagen
      Posted at 15:26h, 14 June

      Thank you so much for sharing your experience and wisdom, Pearl. I completely agree with you, although I find that it is more difficult for me to do than to understand. I really appreciate this reminder. Xoxo