Back in late February, I posted about the mixed feelings I had about changing my Lock Screen photo from a picture of June to one of my two boys. In the world of child loss, I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling this. I had talked about it a few years prior with a friend who lost her son to cancer, but I had no idea just how much it would resonate with others - not just in child loss, but in all forms of loss. People reached out to me about how they felt similar feelings about a parent, spouse, sibling or friend who died. They, too, couldn’t change their Lock Screen photo.
When I mustered up the courage to change the photo from one of June to one of George and Peter, I realized that it didn’t make my love and longing for June disappear. It did, however, make me appreciate my life in the present moment. I smiled more when I looked at my phone which changed my overall mood. Around June’s birthday, I wanted to feel her presence more, so I changed it back to a photo of her. It was the two of us shortly after her birth. And just this week, I changed it back to a picture of George, Peter and me from this Mother’s Day because it makes me smile, and I need that right now.
Life after loss is complex. We want to remember and honor our loved ones who have died, but we also want to find joy in life as it is. Continuously integrating a huge loss into our lives is hard. I am not alone in feeling betrayal about being happy and finding joy after a loss of this scale. I think that’s why something as seemingly small as a lock screen photo can represent so much meaning about what our lives look like and that hesitation to let that last piece go.
Maybe changing the Lock Screen photo doesn’t have to be as monumental as I made it, but I understand why I felt that way. It kind of gets to the heart of what it truly means to be a survivor of a loved one who has died. How do we go on in the present when a chunk of our heart will always be in the past? I don’t have the answers, but I know it has to be more than just going through the motions of life without them. To truly survive we have to find joy, meaning, and purpose - when you are ready, of course.