Death is the only certainty in life…
The only certainty in life is death, but it doesn’t matter whether you have had time to prepare for it or not. When that moment finally happens, the wind is knocked out of your sails. Everyone is touched by death: the death of a parent, death of a child, death of a sibling, death of a relative, death of a close friend, or death of a pet. We all grieve in different ways and our sadness may linger longer than others, but the common connection is the love we held for the ones we lost.
Experiencing the death of someone you love
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, a friend of mine lost her dad and she was unable to be there for the final farewell. It was devastating, and I can empathize with her pain. Her loss reminded me of the loss of my own father almost 24 years ago. His passing shattered my world. I felt only raw pain and had no desire to see or speak to anyone except to the ones in my closest circle; these are ones I drew emotional strength from.
Often, people want to tell you how to grieve or tell you how you should feel. Honestly, I didn’t want to hear any of it, not then. Grief comes from a place of love. If you didn’t love that person, I believe that you would not feel the same immense and debilitating loss. Through this passage of loss, I learned a few things that I share with others who have experienced a similar loss. These are the things that helped me deal with my own personal grief. They worked for me and who knows, they may work for others who face similar grief.
#1: Oh, how I cried my heart out!
Crying can be cathartic, a sort of cleansing of the soul; an opportunity to release the growing sadness within you. In my quiet moments when no one else was around, I sobbed until there were no more tears. I cried my heart out at every thought and memory! After all these years I still cry the odd tear. I cry when I hear a certain song that reminds me of my father. I cry when I feel lost knowing that he was the one who always held my hand. I ignored the ones who told me, “Don’t cry, this will get better.” While these words were well-meaning, these were simply not the words I wanted to hear at that moment.
It is true, that as time passes the pain will lessen, but there will be vulnerable moments such as this one, as I write these words. In those times, the tears will still flow; but the raw pain will no longer be there.
“There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love.”Washington Irving
# 2: Treasure the moments with loved ones
The second simple thing to do is treasure every moment you get to spend with your loved one. This, of course, can only be done during life; but, hindsight is 20/20. Think about it, how many times a loved one passes away and we look back at the last time we spent with them? Was it a good memory or a bad memory? Were there hurtful words or words of shared love?
Every day we hear or read somewhere that life is precious, and we should treasure the moments we spend with the people we love. These are words many of us take for granted because, in our minds, there is always tomorrow. Life has repeatedly shown us differently and tomorrow is never promised.
The moments we spend with our loved ones are gifts and will one day become memories, so why not make every effort to make them great ones? I loved being in my father’s presence. He was a simple man and my time spent with him was always wonderful. I was a lucky girl!
#3 Continuously talk about loved ones
Talk about your loved ones whenever there is an opportunity. Remember the things they did or said and share their story. Listen to the stories their friends have to share about your loved ones. The day you stop talking about them, is the day they stop existing in your world. The spirits of our loved ones exist in our memories of them. My grandfather, who was an avid writer and poet once wrote:
Whatever is of dust, Forgotten lost
Let it be said,
Of unremembered clay
A thousand years, a day
’Tis to be deadExcerpt from the poem “Let It Be Said” by Clytus A. Thomasos from his 1939 collection entitled POEMS.
After I lost my father, we talked about him a lot. Now, don’t get me wrong, we still do but the emotions changed. Initially, there was a surreal kind of feeling coming to terms with the fact that he was no longer with us. As we talk about him now, there is laughter as we remember the things he used to do or the way he said certain things. One of my fondest memories is my father singing to my mother whenever she was angry with him for one thing or another. This was simply one of his ways of saying that he loved her.
In life and death, there are so many lessons to be learned. We love, we lose, our hearts break, but in the end, we come through it. Anne Lamott said it best,
“You will lose someone you can’t live without, and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly — that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”Anne Lamott
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