It is because of hope that you suffer. It is through hope that you’ll change things. Maxime Lagacé

I recently read an article in Psychology Today that gave a name for something I have been feeling for four years:  “Prolonged Grief Disorder.” It is the result of what they call “ambiguous loss” where a person is pulled back and forth between hope and despair.

I pictured a candle labeled “Hope” that is sometimes bright and sometimes sputtering.

Prolonged Grief Disorder is common among people who have missing family members.  Common too in this group is depression, suicide, and severe health problems.  Odd.  That’s common among people with high ACE scores too. I found out today mine is a 9 out of 10.

Hope is literally the only thing keeps me going most days.

The solution, the article claimed, is to let go of hoping for a happy ending.  Find another reason to hope and stop hoping for your loved one to return.

The art of survival would appear to hinge on how to find new meaning and hope in life, according to Frankl, and this might mean having to say goodbye when you remain unconvinced that you can be certain what happened to your loved one. This sometimes feels like a betrayal.

With any ambiguous loss, you are the one who has to make the choice to finally say goodbye, whereas with every other kind bereavement, that decision is forced upon you.

“…sometimes feels like a betrayal…”? How could it not always feel like a betrayal?  When I read this, I cried for days.  Literally days.  I couldn’t even begin to think of letting go.  I read the article just a week or so before Ben’s 36th birthday, February 21st.  Birthdays are a big deal in our family.  We really celebrate each year of our loved one’s birth — a party if they are near, or singing on the phone and gifts if they are far.  I started this tradition when they were little.  Ben’s birthday is hard now, for all of us.

And this day — March 2nd — sucks.

I don’t know if the advice given in Psychology Today would work for others, but it will not work for me.  I cannot blow out my candle of hope. I won’t.

Featured photo by Lars Nissen Photoart, Pixabay.