Dear Dating Coach,
My mother passed away several years ago and my family and I have been doing our best to lead healthy and productive lives. I recently became engaged to the most wonderful guy and I feel so lucky to have met my bashert. But the wedding planning has been terribly emotional. Buying a wedding dress or walking down the aisle without my mother seems impossible – and I am frozen at the thought. I am afraid I will sabotage my happiness. Please help!
I know almost nothing about classical music, but still it speaks to me. The slow build to a moving crescendo, the music rising and crashing, as notes fight to reach their peak. Your heart begins to race and swell, and you feel like the music will overwhelm and consume you. But then there is a shift, a slow decline, as the notes carefully descend. You feel your limbs relax with the slow return to diminuendo, the sound gradually quieting, at rest once again. That musical journey may be different for everyone, but the highs and lows of music and melody touches us all.
I am deeply sorry for your loss. The bond of mother and daughter can be beyond measure and words.
I believe that grief is made up of moments of crescendo, when you are utterly lost, consumed by pain and heartache. These are times that we struggle for composure and control and feel like you do now – unable to move forward; to plan a future. So, we chase the diminuendo, when the grief is still present, and those painful notes are still there, but smaller and diminished. You have been doing so well, striving for growth and joy every day. You met your soulmate and want to make a happy life with him. But suddenly your grief is holding you back as you focus on how your loss will be highlighted so strongly at your wedding.
Sit with your father and your siblings and explain how you feel. They are most certainly feeling the loss more acutely now as well and their support will bolster and encourage you. Acknowledge the pain of planning your wedding without your mother and then do everything in your power to manage the experience. Go wedding dress shopping with your sister if that feels right to you, or ask a group of friends along to distract you with their smiles and giggles. Then, be kind to yourself without expectations. So, if the day alone with your sister is surprisingly filled with laughter and fun, then consider yourself accomplished. And if the day with friends picking the dress brings you to tears, then that is ok as well.
Finally, before the wedding, give yourself the time and space to be sad – sad for that first dance, for the pictures that will never be complete, and for that walk down the aisle. Accept however, that you have been given a tremendous gift, your zivug, and the ability to stand under the chuppah. So, on the day of your wedding, put all that pain in a drawer and fight to feel the joy. Firmly shut that drawer when it threatens to open, and smile and experience the true beauty of your special day. Then, when the wedding is over, you can open that drawer again – knowing that your fierce pursuit of happiness will sustain the diminuendo for a while.