I am not so naive that I think there is anything that can actually bring comfort at a time like this. But the truth is, I cannot hear the news without stepping into my friend's world and imagining the awful despair spinning around inside.
You'll never hear me say platitudes like, "it's for the best," or "God wanted it this way." Screw the best. When you're suffering loss, you just want the person back, dammit. Saying such hollow locutions offers nothing and in fact detracts from the very sympathy being offered. The only comfort, I believe, is to simply acknowledge the person's pain.
I don't know how to do this well. I think few of us do. Some people avoid doing anything at all because it's so uncomfortable but that's an even more egregious approach. My friend confessed to me, after suffering the recent loss of a sibling (making the loss of her mom even more sorrowful), that some coworkers neglected to sign a card or acknowledge her struggle.
And it stung.
I liken emotional pain to physical pain. Like a knife wound to the heart, you must accept that your body will heal on its own time schedule. If you impatiently rush the process, the delicate scabs over your psyche will rip open and bleed. After surgery, we are gentle on ourselves but it's harder to allow time and space to process everything when you can't see the injury.
Loss causes pain, and I am not talking just about death, but any kind of loss.
Loss of love, health, job, relationships, pets, innocence, joy, a role you've been playing, home, friendship, trust, youth, privacy, security, possibilities, beliefs, expectations, surroundings... even things that can sometimes be positive still involve loss and need to be processed. Loss is the one common thread that bonds us all. It doesn't matter how different we are, we are all the same in the face of bereavement.
People handle it differently. Some cry, some express their pain only in private. However it needs to be expressed is ok.
So I am dedicating TMI Thursday to anyone facing loss, and to my friend:
From In Blackwater Woods, by Mary OliverI cannot ever read that poem without choking up and so now I am sitting here in the library fighting back tears. But I am thinking of you in your struggles. I don't want you to be alone.
I have ever learned
in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side
none of us will ever know.
To live in this world
you must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal;
to hold it
against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go.
“The risk of love is loss, and the price of loss is grief -
But the pain of grief
Is only a shadow
When compared with the pain
Of never risking love.”
--Hilary Stanton Zunin
. . .
Oh, my friend, it's not what they take away from you that counts. It's what you do with what you have left.Links:
Lastly, because I like to leave my posts on a more positive note, some cartoons on loss.
The lighter side: