Bittersweet. There’s a word for you. An oxymoron if you will … a figure of speech in which two opposite ideas are joined to create an effect. How can something be ‘sweet’ and at the same time, be ‘bitter’?
How about the time when your child went off to kindergarten for the first time, or graduated high school, or left home for college, or got married? Sweet – because you’re happy they’re growing up. Bitter – because you realize that your child is moving away from you. b i t t e r s w e e t
What about when your beloved spouse/partner/parent/child/family pet died? Sweet – because there is no more suffering for them. Bitter – because you wanted many more years together. b i t t e r s w e e t
The month of October in this hemisphere is the hiatus between the sweet summer and bitter winter. b i t t e r s w e e t
Life is full of bittersweet moments. How do we deal with them? How do we let them into our lives, but not take over our lives? It may be easier to push those moments down or away, but there is no resolution or healing in ignoring our emotional response.
It may be difficult to focus on the ‘bitter,’ because it is not easy to acknowledge the reality of the moment. But when we do, we are free to discover the ‘sweetness’ … of pride we felt as our child faced the milestones of their growing-up years, of joy we experienced as our spouse / partner / parent / child / dear friend / pet shared a love that transcended words.
It’s up to us to determine how the bittersweet moments ultimately resolve themselves in our soul. Will each be stored as a mixture of bitter and sweet? Or will we be able to release the bitterness and allow the sweetness to fill the empty spaces in our hearts and lives?
When the reality that my son is an adult, married to a wonderful woman and no longer “needs” me the way he did when he was a child/youth, surfaces, I try to focus on the blessing when I hear my son’s voice, see him, share special times alone with him. Bittersweet.
When the suffering of my beloved late husband enters my thoughts, I try to focus on the hope that he is at peace, is no longer suffering and welcome good memories of our times together. Bittersweet.
Bittersweet moments happen in life. How to embrace them is the question for each of us. May we be given the grace to give ourselves time and space to allow healing to happen so there are fewer bitter and more sweet moments.
© June Maffin
<Photo of my beloved’s photo on the wall the week after he died with flowers from our son and daughter-in-love.>