Saturday, April 16, 2016

"The cost of sharing your life with someone worth missing"*

*  - I am indebted to John Pavlovitz for the quote used as my title - read his original article, entitled "The Day I'll Finally Stop Grieving"  here 
If the link does not work, just copy and paste the following address into your web browser's address bar:   

 Once deep grief has touched your life, you are never the same again.  You don't "get over it."  It becomes part of you, just like your glasses (you don't always notice them on your face but they are always there)  - always beneath the surface - affecting you to one degree or another.

At first, it is all you can feel.  Wave upon wave upon wave of pain, sadness, anger, anguish, and love - yes, love - for without love there would be no pain, no sadness.  Those waves can last for weeks, even months, with no letup.  Every moment hurts. The pain is intense, indescribable, searing.  Sometimes it feels like your heart is going to burst out of your chest. It literally physically hurts.  You lose sleep.  You re-experience the trauma of the loss, over and over again. It's all you can think about. Everything you see, everywhere you go, every person you meet is somehow a reminder. 

It's not like every single moment is like that.  There are oases, respites or breaks from the suffering, however fleeting they may be.  But at first, there is no respite. 

After a while, there may be breaks from the relentless onslaught.  I truly believe that humans were never created or designed to experience loss of this kind.  We are eternal beings; separation is not something we were meant to cope with. That being said, the mind can only bear so much before it creates breaks - even minor ones - rays of light piercing the gloom. Life has a way of forcing you to pay attention to it ... even if that paying attention is putting one foot in front of the other, looking after someone else, doing household chores, paying the bills, playing music, or exercising ... or something else. And in the midst of that, inexplicably, there can be moments (however fleeting) where you can forget about the loss. For a while.

Sometimes you can laugh.  I mean, really belly-laugh!  (Part of you feels guilty perhaps, but you DO laugh.) Sometimes (and as time goes on, those sometimes become most-of-the-time) you can enjoy the little things you always did. 

Our belle Arielle (1992-2013) ... in 2012

But there is no escaping that loss.  It's there all the time. The expression "time heals all wounds" is not true.  Time might distance you from the intense, constant pain - but there will always be that pain, and at any time (and you never know what will set it off or when) it can flare to be just as bad as the first day, catch you off guard when it does, and leave you breathless and shaking when the wave passes over you. 

Queen Elizabeth II once said, "Grief is the price we pay for love."  I would add that the more intense the love, and the more invested in the other person's well-being you are, the more intense the grief will be when that person is gone from you.  

I'm not saying you won't remember something that they said and laugh along with the memory. Those times will come, and they are precious when they do.  That's all part of the grieving process too.  Even with that happy memory there will be a pang, though, that inescapable fact of their absence.  It becomes part of your "new normal" ... which is essentially learning to live with missing them.

I know all the platitudes people give you to try to make you feel better (and that could be because they are uncomfortable with how deep your suffering is). You know the platitudes I mean: that your loved one is in a better place, or that God needed another angel (I want to punch people who say that!), yada yada.  The fact remains that the person is gone and you can't get them back - so you have to live the rest of your whole life without them.  You don't stop missing them. You don't stop loving them. And that is as it should be.  You'd be a pretty heartless and unfeeling person if you just "got over it."

So the next time (or any time) someone says to you, "You know, it's been ten months, (or ten years, or twenty years) since you lost so-and-so, isn't it about time you moved on?" ... you can know that this person has never lost someone that close.  And you can be grateful that they haven't experienced the kind of pain you have felt.  Nor would you wish that upon them, truth be told. Besides, missing your loved one is definitely not "not moving on."  It is holding them in your heart. It is honouring them the only way you have left - by NOT forgetting them.

The experience of missing them sucks, yes.  Grief is not pleasant.  However - as John (whom I quoted at the beginning of my post) said, grief is "the cost of sharing your life with someone worth missing." It is by far the highest price to pay and still remain alive, but hear me: it should never be anything to be ashamed of, or to be shamed for. Take it from someone who knows. 

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