You can sail through years of your life, never experiencing a great loss, and then – bam! If you are a human being, you can’t get through life without experiencing gut-wrenching loss.
Unfortunately, I have never really known what it’s like to “sail through years of your life without ever experiencing a great loss.” My father was killed by a drunk driver when I was 9 weeks old. My first memory at 3 years old, is my grandfather dying before my eyes. My other grandfather died on my 18th birthday. My best friend Becky was killed in a car accident on her way to my surprise 21st birthday party. And my great-grandfather died on my 25th birthday. I lost a man I loved to cancer, the day after 9/11. I sailed for awhile, but then came last year. I lost my bird, my dog, my brother, a beloved childhood friend, my mother and three other family pets – in that order. And on top of all that, a family member who is battling cancer, had to have his leg amputated. He’s only 40. It feels like everywhere I turn, there’s sickness, tragedy and death.
How do we continue through life when people we love are dying? Do we face our future with fear of dying ourselves, or with wild abandon for a truly cherished life?
Grief is like a long-term illness. If you don’t take care of your spirit and nurture your soul while you’re going through it, you’ll have no chance of healing, And even if you are able to work through it, treat yourself tenderly and move past it, you’re never free of the disease. Grief can hit you with or without a trigger, even decades after the loss, and without notice.
What I have learned throughout these years of heartbreaking loss, is to work towards a healthy remission. In other words, don’t put pressure on yourself to get over it. Just take each day as it comes, and focus on working toward healing. Eventually, you’ll work your way into a sort of grief remission, where the heartache is still there, but you learn to live with it.
We need to remember that everywhere we turn, there are other human beings facing death, loss, and tragedy. We should learn to treat everyone as if they had just suffered a loss – be kind, offer our help, pray for them. If everyone in this world treated each other this way, it would be a more peaceful place.