I belong to club that no one wants to be a part of yet at some point in our lives most of us will. It’s a club that no one fully understands except those that are mambers. I am a part of the club that has lost someone they cared about to death.
I am not trying to be morbid or melodramatic but I am processing. Recently I lost someone I cared for and admired. She was a good friend who ultimately lost her seven year courageous battle with metastatic breast cancer. She was a miracle. No, she did not have the ultimate healing we were all praying, negotiating and begging for but she had many miracles along the way. She was told she would be lucky to have 5 years from her date of diagnosis yet she lived for a glorious seven. She had lesions throughout her liver and tumors everywhere that plagued her. Miraculously, and to the doctor’s consternation, they disappeared for several years before ultimately returning. She epitomized using that which was cast on her for the glorification of our lord rather than dwell in a state of victimhood though she had every right and reason. Even in the wake of being told in March she had 3 months left, she proved them wrong and fought to see her oldest daughter graduate from high school, her youngest from eighth grade and enjoy one last trip to Hawaii in June with her girls and husband.
I know that any loss is painful but for some reason, I appear to be taking this loss much harder than I expected. I have found it difficult to write my blog. Perhaps that is because she too had a blog and doing so has reminded me of her and for the last week, that was too painful. I am not sure if it is bringing back memories of past losses or if it is something else. What I do know is that any loss just sucks and the emotions we feel, while they may be normal, are not often rational and are often far from logical.
As one such example of the irrational and lack of logic, I turn to sympathy cards. Now any one who has read a sympathy card can say that they are almost always beautiful messages, often hopefully and try very hard to put a positive spin on the loss that has just occurred. As a member of this rather depressing club (and as pretty much any member can), I can say with confidence that I can tell in an instant if the writer of a sympathy card has lost someone or not. This came to the forefront of my mind in my recent search for appropriate sympathy cards and I realized how truly large the divide is between those who have lost and those who have not.
I understand when someone near to us has lost a love one, all we want to do is take away their pain, let them know that we care, that we feel sorry for their loss and that in the end it will be all right. But let’s be real and brutally honest for a minute. When you lose someone, these statements are something you really don’t want to hear (all of which I recently read in my search):
- “God needed them more.” – Having had this said to me personally when I lost my father, what went through my mind was, “He is my FATHER. God has plenty of people. I needed him and I will always need him more than God.” Again, it wasn’t rational. The only thing I could understand at that moment was he was my father and he wasn’t here.
- “They are in a better place.” – Again, this is another I have personally heard. Frankly, anyone who has lost someone they love will tell you that while they may logically know that heaven is a better place, emotionally, our loved one’s place is with us…my husband should be with me, my mom’s place is with me when I graduate, when I marry, when I have children. Trust me this is not what someone who is raw with loss wants to hear, no matter how true.
- “They are with God now.” – Again, they may be with God but they are supposed to be here. They are not suppose to be gone.
- “Time will ease the pain.” – Okay, from a personal standpoint, I hate this sentence because it is just wrong. Here is the reality. The pain I feel today at the loss of my father is just as raw, just as real, just as vivid and just as gut wrenching as the day I found out he had passed over 17 years ago. The difference is the time between the moments of pain have gotten longer. When he first passed away, there was not a moment I didn’t just hurt in this odd state of numbness and nothingness. Within a few days, there were seconds in which I remembered his silly laugh that were bearable. Seconds turned to minutes, minutes to hours, hours to days, days to weeks and weeks to months between the pain. Now I can think about him and smile or talk about who he was but when I remember he is gone, it still hurts that same raw, gagged, gut wrenching hurt.
- “Good memories will fill in the void of theses painful memories.” – I don’t want memories, I want my loved one.
- “Find the joy in their rejoicing with God and being home with their Lord.” – Again, I just want them here. God doesn’t need my loved one. I do! I need them home here with me.
It’s not that these are not fine and good sentiments. In fact, truth is they are true…well most of them. But in the face of dealing with a loss, they are not what people want to hear or are not often receptive too, even if they know you mean well. It’s not logical, rather it is all emotional. Having experienced loss, I want a card that says:
Expected or Unexpected, the loss of your loved one just sucks. If I could take away the pain, I would. Know that while you may want to be alone right now at this moment of loss (and that’s okay), just know I am here whenever your are ready and am ready for whatever you may need.
Frankly, that’s all I ever was up to hearing or wanted to hear. It just sucks.
Grief is different for everyone. Even though we may all go through those 7 stages of grief, we each do it in our own way. We process differently from each other and we may process each passing differently. I know when my father passed, it was very much a family effort of mourning yet when my grandmother passed, my grief was processed very internally. The one common thing that I have found was a feeling that I have heard many people echo. My mother paraphrases Sylvia Brown often on this one but it really does summarize the feeling,
“Okay, I’m done grieving. I’ve done that. You can come back now.”
Its the next step in processing the finality of loss. Again, its irrational and utterly illogical but its pretty accurate. Conciously, there is an understanding of the irrevocable nature of death but it is extremely difficult to fully comprehend and accept that irrevocable finality on an emotional level, especially if it is someone we have come to rely on being there.
Emotions can be uncontrollable. They sneak up on you and don’t give you a chance to rationalize them. One for me that was difficult for a long time to accept as normal and human is the strange mixture of relief and guilt all at the same time. I have found that this can be very normal for someone who was a caregiver. Caregivers give and rearrange their lives for their sick loved ones. When someone passes that we have been caregiver too, I have found it is not uncommon to experience this vicous cycle of relief and guilt. There is relief in that the all consuming task of caregiving is done. In that split second of relief, there is also an illogical sense (and very much not true) of I wanted my loved one gone or why else would I be relieved that in turn manifests itself in to guilt. Reality – You would give anything to have your loved one back and would gladly carry any burden to have them there. BUT, since they have passed, there is relief that that phase of life that was all consuming is gone. It’s normal. It’s okay and it is very human.
In the end, I can say confidently, when we have lost someone all we want is them back. One of my favorite songs, though I can never get through it without crying, is Diamond Rio’s One More Day.
Last night I had a crazy dream. A wish was granted just for me, it could be for anything. I didn’t wish for money or a mansion Malibu. I simply wished for one more day with you. One more day, one more time, one more sunset, maybe I’d be satisfied. But then again, I know what it would do, leave me wishing for one more day with you.
In the end, one more day is all we want, a continual one more day. Thank you for indulging me as I process the loss of my friend and all the irrational and illogical and raw emotions that it has brought up. If you have not loss someone, I hope your membership in this club is a long time off and for those of you who are members of this horrible club, I hope my words did your experiences justice.
To my friend, who is still teaching me lessons from her angel’s seat in heaven, I say good-bye. I will miss you.