No More Tears – Processing Loss


On Sunday, 19 June, Father’s Day, I was going about my life with a friend as we were enjoying a wine and music festival. I received a missed call and eventually listened to the message a bit later. The message (yes, I do have my cell phone message set up and I do listen to messages) was short and blunt that one of my nieces had died. She was a pregnant 23-year-old.

Please note that this blog entry is not about soliciting sympathy but processing loss from my view.

The first emotion was distress due to shock and the first thought was disbelief. I, as the auntie, who took care of her from a few days old to her earlier years expected that she would out-live me. I was expecting that she would have fond memories of me when I died not the other way around. I speak so casually of my death because I have had occasional thoughts about dying and death. It is an inevitable part of life and to ignore it is naïve. In this crazy world, here today and gone tomorrow is such a frequent recurring concept.

My place to be was with my family in order to share and support each other in this unfair and miserable situation. My distress was not comparable to that of my sister who loss her first-born and first grandchild. I felt helpless for her – my grief was pushed aside for her. Sadly, my sister and I had a tiff a few days before but in that moment, it was not about my loss but hers. It was an automatic response. As another sister said, we are family no matter the disagreement we had in the past.

My darling niece had a Facebook account so her younger sister and I used that medium to pass on the news. I made a subtle tribute to her and ever so slowly people started catching on that my family had a loss. My parents and her parents were fielding a stream of phone calls while her younger sister managed the Facebook inquiries. There is not much to explain when a seemingly healthy young woman suddenly dies.

I appreciate people’s condolences. I have always been a solitary person so, I am not comfortable with letting other’s know I had a death in the family. I prefer to grieve in isolation and letting a select few aware of what’s happening. However, what I prefer is in conflict  with what is the socially right thing to do so, in such instances, I defer to the latter.

I find myself being egocentric in this process. For me and my family, the loss and everything following is the most important thing now. For some ridiculous reason, I expect others to see their lives from our point of view. For example, I went on Facebook and was slightly bothered that some of the people who made condolences had already moved on to their regular lives. People were posting happy pictures (this was Father’s day weekend), funny jokes, political stuff etc. My tragedy was but a blip for them. The last time I was on Facebook before this tragedy, I would read and ‘like’ people’s pictures and posts. However, after the tragedy, I find most of those posts frivolous. I was not capable of extending myself to see their point of view about what was important in their Facebook sharing lives.

I am aware that life does not stop even for our family. I became more aware listening to the news about the people who died in freak accidents etc. I wondered what their families were experiencing at this ‘here today gone in a second’ event in their lives. I imagined the shock and disbelief, the notification to family and friends, the condolences phone calls, the explanation of what happened, the dealing with never seeing that person again, and the funeral arrangements. Interestingly, I somehow could not fully grasp what those families are experiencing even though I and my family are going through a similar situation.

The passing made mortality the forefront of my thoughts. Despite my tenuous relationship with God and Christianity, I never once thought of blaming God. I never thought of why us, why God allowed this to happen or any such things. “Shit happens” whether I like it or not and God already knows I don’t like this shit happening to us. People said they would pray for my family. Funny thing is I have not said a prayer in regards to this situation. It’s like an avoidance of this issue with God. Maybe I am expecting the prayer of the faithful to have more weight than mine. I really am not sure why I have not addressed this issue with God.

What does play in my mind are the what ifs. What if the hospital staff had done a better job when she was there a few days earlier. What would have happened if…? Did she pass peacefully? Did she know she was dying? What were her last thoughts in her last moments? Was there anything that could have been done differently? When I see the face  my  darling niece, the disbelieve comes rushing back. My sister wailed “she is never coming back” repeatedly and that was the kicker. The next time the family sees my darling she will be in a coffin-the breath of life gone. A shell of the person she used to be. I remembered that coffin view with my grandmother and it was a very difficult moment. The thought of her lifeless body is exceedingly distressing. I can’t imagine…

I am still in the early stages. My whole family is in the early stages. My sister, her husband, the remaining children, and not to forget my darling’s significant other will have a much more difficult time than I in the days, months, and years to come. I know there are more tears to shed and more disbelief and feelings of emptiness in the future. I will eventually come to an emotional peace that life continues for everyone. However, for myself and family who had a loss, life will go on outwardly as we learn to deal with the absence of one member of our family. The positive from all this is that I hugged tighter and said more “I love you” than I ever uttered in my 40 years and meant every word. Loss can either destroy or bring others together.

 

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3 thoughts on “No More Tears – Processing Loss

  1. When we lose someone we love, a piece of our heart is ripped from our chest, that piece that belonged only to them. That piece is irreplaceable, nobody else can fill that void. I know. After my first wife committed suicide in October 1997, I kept trying to “replace” her, but no other lover could fill her place.

    In the aftermath of losing someone, we may have to do what we have to do, because bills still have to be paid, groceries still have to bought, so we have to “move-on”. We may keep up a charade of “normalcy” for many years, but there is still unresolved grief. We still aren’t “whole”, and we never really will be until we reach Heaven.

    I dread Father’s Day, because it brings to the forefront of my mind WHY I can’t enjoy Father’s Day like other dads. In spite of being a father, my children don’t call me “dad”. Father’s Day reminds me of all of the dysfunction in my life over the last nineteen-plus years. In a way, I HAVE “moved-on”, but nothing can erase those memories. They will die with me.

    Grieve and process your loss at YOUR own pace, and if it takes years to do it, so be it. I will gladly walk beside you in your grief-journey, because I understand. I lost some one I loved too.

    Blessings,

    Steve

    1. Thank you Steve. I find myself going in an out of sadness and wanting to cry. Today is better than the last two days because I went back to work and was kept busy. I am dreading the thought of seeing my darling in a coffin. I know father’s day will always be a sad reminder particularly for her father.
      The loss of someone never goes away no matter how many years have passed. It’s just not at the forefront of our minds everyday. I do realize this is a natural cycle of life but it’s still not easy to accept.

      1. The reason it hurts SO much to lose someone we love is that it is NOT supposed to happen. God didn’t create us to die, He created us to LIVE, to live on in good-health far beyond our wildest imagination.

        I recently posted a Bible Study from John 11, when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. You might enjoy reading about our Lord’s perspective on death.

        http://pipermac5.wordpress.com/2016/06/03/bible-study-raising-lazarus/

        Blessings and peace,

        Steve

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