What Do You Do When You Miss Someone?

bouquet of roses
Flowers are no substitute for being with someone.

It’s Painful to Miss Someone

I recently wrote about how to deal with grief by questioning the stressful thoughts that come up. 

One thought that I questioned after my mom died was, “I need to figure it out.” My semi-conscious fantasy was that, if I could figure out how her accident occurred, then I could prevent it. Seeing what I was doing with this fantasy helped me to move on.

But there was another thread of thinking that tied me down to grief: the thread of nostalgia. When I cut this thread with inquiry, I started to see that it was actually up to me how much pain I wanted to experience. 

Nostalgia is Bitter-Sweet

It’s sweet because it’s fun to remember all the good times. It gives a feeling of happiness inside. But it’s bitter because it’s no longer possible to do those things with that person. Going into nostalgia when you’re grieving is like giving an ice cream cone to a child and then taking it away. It’s actually cruel. 

This is what I discovered as I did my work. When I went into nostalgia, I basically tortured myself. I would almost always end up crying or feeling sad. Here I was looking at beautiful images in my mind about my mom and they were making me sad, not happy.

Nectar and Poison Mixed Together Is Still Poison

The sweetness of those memories of my mom was pure nectar. But to dwell on them when I was grieving the loss of her was a poison to my system. I soon recognized this and realized that I had a choice each time I started to walk down memory lane. 

If I chose to indulge myself in the sweet memories, I would end up feeling sad. So I started to experiment with not replaying those images and past memories so much. Whenever I saw that I had a choice, I opted to stay present with what I was doing at the time instead going into nostalgia.

I quickly came to see that this avoided a lot of pain. I decided to leave the nectar alone for for a while, until the poison had been removed. 

Now, I can go back into the nostalgia without getting sad because my grief is over now. The nectar no longer contains any poison mixed with it.

The Mind’s Fantasy

The mind loves to exaggerate. The mind fantasizes about how amazing it all was. It paints a very rosy picture, sidestepping any inconvenient truths that were less than glorious about the past. 

This exaggeration substantiates the story that “I am a victim.” It fortifies thoughts like, “This is so terrible,” “My life was great until now,” and “Now I have no one to have fun with.” 

But these stories can be questioned like this: “It is so terrible, is it true?” “Now, I have no one to have fun with, is it true?” 

Through inquiry, these fantasy thoughts come to rest. And reality starts to look as good, or even better, than the fantasy that the mind was so attached to.

Attachment Lies at the Heart of Grief

When the mind is attached, it finds all the reasons why it’s right. But when you question all these reasons, eventually there is no reason left to be stay attached. Then the mind is free to move on. 

There is no disloyalty is moving on, unless you think there is. And even that can be questioned: “It’s disloyal to move on, is it true?” “Moving on means, I don’t love her, is it true?” I found only a disloyalty to suffering when I questioned my thinking. 

This took time and practice. For me, it was about two months of doing The Work every day before my attachment to the idea that “Mom should still be alive” faded to the background. 

Join us in Austria, Sep 20-27, 2019, for a Course on Dealing with Grief

We will use The Work of Byron Katie to do inquiry on any thoughts related to grief. We’ll come at it from many different angles during the course.

Location: ​Southeast Austria near Hungary and Slovenia

Accommodations:​ ​Landhofmühle hotel in the beautiful Austrian countryside

​Arrive: Friday, September 20, 2019 at 5 PM
Depart: ​Friday, September 27, 2019 at 1 PM

Price: 1200,-€ (includes tuition, accommodations, and vegetarian meals)

Language: English

​Sessions: I will lead morning and afternoon sessions​. ​Certified facilitators will lead evening sessions. Our host, Maria Stachel, ​from Austria is ​organizing the workshop. Please contact her to make payments or to ask questions about the venue.

​This event is open to beginners and to those who are new to The Work, as well as to those who have a lot of experience doing The Work of Byron Katie.

​Sign up by contacting Maria Stachel.

Have a great week,

“Nothing was ever born but a dream. Nothing ever dies but a dream.” Byron Katie​, Question Your Thinking, Change the World

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  • Liat Gat says:

    Great post, Todd! Thank you so much for describing everything so clearly. You make it very easy to read, and to relate.

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