My accountability buddy (Adam, in Israel!) recommended the Huberman Lab podcast. Because another friend (Laurie, a Ph.D. psychologist!) had just lost her beloved dog, I listened to an episode about grief. I also wanted to understand my own history with grief.
Andrew Huberman, Ph.D., is a tenured Professor in the Department of Neurobiology at the Stanford University School of Medicine. In this episode,
“I explain the biological mechanisms of grief, including how neural circuits for emotional and factual memory combine with those for love and attachment, to create feelings of absence and yearning.”
He says research shows there are three things that determine the level of impact of grief on the brain:
- Ability to locate the lost person/pet/thing in time.
- Ability to locate the lost person/pet/thing in place.
- Level of attachment to the person/pet/thing before they were lost.
According to Huberman, the brain relies more on its storehouse of experiences than knowledge. This is why you can know someone is dead but still expect them to walk through the front door.
Some people attempt to minimize the pain of grief by minimizing the attachment. “I didn’t love him all that much. I mean, the honeymoon was definitely over.”
Instead of minimizing, Huberman recommends putting the person in a place and time other than the place and time they formerly occupied. In heaven, for example. You’ll see them again when you depart the planet, too.
My brain imagines Trent swimming in the Amazon or among the clouds. Leda is running on the grassy hill from my dream, with her full tail.
Although I am separated from Jenna, Trent’s daughter, and there is grief with that, I have told myself periodically over the last eleven years, “You’ll see her again when she gets married (time), at her wedding (place).
About once a year, I search “Herb Price Battle Creek MI” to see if Trent’s father is still alive. When I did that this Spring, I learned he was alive but Jean, Trent’s mom, had died. From her obituary, I learned Jenna is getting married.
I don’t know why I thought someone would tell me, someone would invite me, but I did.
We’ve since had an interaction that made it clear I am not invited, not wanted. I am dropping the gift I had offered, dropping my hands to my sides.
What is required is love with nothing in return. To love myself, to love Jenna. To send her light and love, to wish them well, then drop it.
Chewing the Cud of Good
Thankful for Trent, who showed me what love is.