I’ve tried to avoid the subject of loss so much this last year, and yet it’s everywhere. I’ve tackled depression with flair and experience, of course, but loss, it’s just been lurking around the edges, waiting for me to look it in the eye. The last few weeks have been so very hard on many people I love.
All too recently, some dear friends lost a child in a terrible accident. There are no words. Others lost a father and husband to cancer. A pet, still a baby and very loved, died from a birth defect. A marriage ended. A medical emergency almost cost a vibrant life.
And now the normal we all knew will never be normal again, and we have to learn to adjust to the changes, or at least hang on through the storm the best we can.
It’s in times of great loss that we’re forced to realize how helpless we are sometimes. It’s obvious in trying to comfort a friend when you want to make it all better, but all you can do is be there while the wind blows their world apart. But being there is so important. Showing up takes courage. Crying beside someone is its own gift, and better than some words of “wisdom” that just sound stupid because everyone knows there’s nothing really right to say.
Many others are suffering losses we don’t often speak about. We’re blaming ourselves, or feeling blamed, shamed, helpless. I’m dealing, every day, with the loss of my child, who is alive, but alienated from me and my family. And the rewriting of histories once shared and now misunderstood on all sides (including mine of course). And I’m worrying over things I can’t do anything about. I was warned a couple years ago that this would happen, and would get worse before it gets better, that my fears around what was happening were true. I was told that this would not be fixable in weeks or months, but in years. I didn’t believe that for a long time.
Now, though, now I haven’t seen my own child in over a year. Now I believe. And I grieve, and I cry, and I rage, and I laugh it off for awhile, and I pretend that everything is okay, and I cycle through the stages over and over again until I’m worn out and realize I have to take care of myself, keep going, keep getting stronger, better, more… well, me. And I have to always keep the door open, my heart open, and above all let go of the anger and the grudges. There’s been enough of that already. What matters is that I will be here as long as I’m alive, and I will welcome my amazing gift of a child with open arms, when that time comes. I’m not giving up.
And in the new normal I’m growing too. All those trite words about having to suffer to grow and so on that you see on Facebook, I used to see them all blah blah blah, and say “what crap!” And now I’m seeing that this indeed is all part of a journey, and I’m lucky to be on it, and I’m getting braver, and kinder – to myself and others. I’m learning to lean on friends sometimes, and be there when they lean back. And I believe in my own goodness and worthiness. At least most of the time. It’s progress. And it takes practice. It is my life’s work.
What is lost won’t return in the same form. But we do carry those we’ve lost in our hearts. And my heart is full of love for my children, always and forever. For now that’s enough.