From: Let It Go to Let It Be

Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA
Richard Citrin Ph.D., MBA

I have some disappointing news for fans of the movie Frozen and good news for fans of the Beatles. Elsa might have missed a beat, but John Lennon hit just the right note.

Elsa told us to “Let it Go,” whether about a challenging relationship, unresolved anger, disappointment, or, as Elsa sang, losing her fear of being herself.

However, I’ve observed that “letting it go” can sometimes feel too forced, like trying not to think of a beautiful sunset only to find it more present in our thoughts. And why shouldn’t we ponder our inadequacies? That is how we learn to overcome them.

My wife Sheila’s new book, The Art of Grieving: How Art and Art Making Help Us Grieve and Live Our Best Lives, was released yesterday. After many years of experiencing and studying grief, she has written about how we use the tools of creativity to heal and even grow from grief. She is committed to getting that message out to the many grieving people.

She is preparing for a big book launch tomorrow with a program she calls Performing the Book.” This is more than just a simple book reading. Sheila and her improv performance troupe, Wing and A Prayer Pittsburgh Players, and the improv group, Talk Back, will transform the messages in the book about how to use the arts to grieve into art!

We already use the arts to help us grieve (consider the music, pictures, voice, and stories we share at funerals and memorials.), and the book shares how we can do that intentionally to help heal from losses of all kinds—deaths, careers, relationships and even self-confidence.

As I’m part of the Launch Team (primarily in a technical role) I’ve been closely involved with many details. Sheila has assembled a fantastic team to help her with significant aspects like public relations (she was on TV last week), social media, and public speaking.

From my experience with book launches, I’ve offered my insights, many of which have sparked lively discussions. When some of my suggestions were not taken, I initially felt slightly disappointed and perhaps even frustrated.  Sometimes, my ruminations woke me up in the middle of the night. I decided I needed to “let it go,” but that often seemed to add to the frustration when I couldn’t just “let it go,” as Elsa advised.

One day, when I heard John Lennon’s Let It Be, I realized I needed to change my thinking. Instead of trying to “let it go,” I could just “let it be,” and allow it to pass on out of my life.  In this spirit, I didn’t need to intervene or change anything about the situation. By allowing it to be as it was, I found myself getting out of my head and finding more ways to reinforce my support in Sheila’s creative abilities.  

More importantly, I could add my efforts to the overarching role of helping her convey the powerful message she writes and speaks about: that grief holds undiscovered gifts for us if we allow it to be a part of our lives.

It is another resilience lesson about navigating complex events with grace and ease.

Just “Let it Be.”

© Richard Citrin 2024

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