Friday, July 13, 2012

Hospice for Relationships

I wrote today on the chateau seven blog about hospice and compassionate end of life care. I was thinking about how, in my society, we're beginning to let go of the sense that everyone MUST be kept alive as long as possible. With the new perspective that values quality over length of life, we're designing beautiful, peaceful, humane ways with which to say goodbye to our beloveds, such as palliative care and hospice, and grief counseling.

Why isn't there a way to let go of relationships that is similarly compassionate, beautiful and peaceful? I don't know about you, but every break-up I've ever been through was full of acrimony and bitterness, anger and bad behavior, before, during and even afterwards. When a relationship is over, there's a sense that it should never have taken place, that the whole thing was rotten from beginning to end. The newly single often wonder why they couldn't see it was going nowhere, they sink into guilt, remorse or blaming. Just because we all must die, should we never have lived? Well?

Therapists can help couples stay together, sometimes, but once it's clear there's no fixing whatever went wrong, that's about all the help people get. Individuals can continue working through the shock and grief of breakups on their own, but couples don't ordinarily continue in counseling. Do they?

Why aren't there people whose job it is to gently encourage us to let go of relationships that have passed their expiration date? It's interesting to think about.

Divorce is almost always considered a failure. Even well meaning friends will continue to stoke up the bad feelings after a breakup. They say things like You're better off without him! What a jerk! He had issues - it's good that you're out of that rotten relationship ... etc. I know I've said those things. In my mind I was being supportive. But was I? You tell me.

I don't think I've ever heard anyone say, Oh it was such a beautiful coupling. How sad that it's now finished, but nothing lasts forever.

Have you?


ellen abbott said...

I know, right? Religion has so much influence in both those instances. the fear of death that religion instills in people with the big emphasis on sin and punishment leads to the idea that any life is better than no life and so they prolong the suffering of people that are dying. and they will die, there is no stopping that. same with marriage. it is god given and the vows are 'until death do you part' so if a relationship runs it course, like friendships often do, then it must be a failure. two more things religion has fucked up. so much better to accept the inevitable, to let go, move on, ease the passing of death of life or death of relationship.

Reya Mellicker said...

I was thinking about friendships, too.

Also the anti-choice people. Scary

Pam said...

This subject has been right up there on my learning curve Reya. Have learnt to never go on about a previous partners faults to the heartbroken, they often get back together again.
In fact, much was said to me when partner and I went our separate ways in our twenties, and we have now been married for over thirty years. Guess there are a few who wished they'd bit their tongue.
I have in fact sincerely said recently of two dear close friends your stated "oh it was a beautiful coupling, how sad that it's now finished", but of course, it hadn't.
Maybe once the divorce papers are signed sealed and delivered on the table one can feel free to truly let loose.
Luckily for me, I've always liked my daughter's boyfriends - I'm sure I'd be more vitriolic if there was one who was unbearable or chronically unsuitable, but her judgement is pretty good, and now I guess I have no say in it at all.
Relationships, when you think of it, can make or break your day, and of course have a ripple-on effect to other members of a group. It is almost that we have an obligation to play nice, even on that ultimate departure - and my daughter having experience with palliative nursing, there are some fine stories about bad behaviour around that!

Reya Mellicker said...

Thank god for you, Pam. I mean that sincerely.

Anonymous said...

Very good and thoughtful post. Learning to let go, and learning when to let go would make our lives easier, wouldn't they? I still grieve for relationships lost because we couldn't let go easily but had to grip tightly until we finally broke apart. And the bitterness and acrimony I felt afterward stole the things that were beautiful about the relationship in the beginning.

Perhaps all that anger is a defense, so that the loss isn't so painful? But at some point, I want once again to own the good things in my past, and so I'm working on the whole forgiveness thing, and letting go peacefully.

nerima roberts said...

I agree with you Reya. And the same can be applied to our relationship with our job. Case in point: I've been teaching at my current school for 6 years. It was good at first, but things have gotten stale there. I hope to get assigned to another school. In the meantime, let me be mindful to end things on GOOD terms, and see that I did have a few good years there. No bitterness. No drama. Just growth.

Reya Mellicker said...

YES - I too was thinking about jobs, living situations, cities. So many kinds of hospice would serve us. Wow.