life after loss
As we move further into 2013 I still cannot help but think back on 2012. Certain years probably spark different emotions in people. For me, 2012 revolved around overcoming the grief that 2011 brought. I’ve heard people describe dealing with grief as a “journey” and the last two years have felt just like that.
In January 2011, my grandfather passed away. He was my closest friend and even though I had experienced loss before, this one was the most difficult. He was my best friend as well as a grandparent. His personality rubbed off onto me and I began to see myself as almost an extension of him. I valued his company so much when I was away at college I would call him just about every other day. After his passing, the rest of 2011 was spent dealing with the first holidays, birthdays, and anniversaries that were spent without him. I had a hollow feeling in my stomach for most of that year and I recall Christmas and New Year’s to be particularly tough.
2012 brought some changes and I slowly began to gain some more strength. I became more involved in my graduate school program and began to build toward a career. In February, some inspiration hit and I started writing. I was able to get an article published in a local paper and I continue to try my hand at it. I also joined a support that meets once a week. Working on these goals and activities helped to ease some of the hurt feelings. In that time, I went from experiencing despair to a much less dejected mood. However, there was still a slight sinking feeling in my gut that I carried around with me. Not that I wanted to – it was just there.
Fortunately, something I did at the end of 2012 broke me from that feeling. This past November, I decided to take a solo out of town trip for the first time since my grandfather’s death. I was going to visit my friend in Boston the weekend before Thanksgiving. That was the kind of thing my grandfather would like to talk about when I returned. There would be no such opportunity this time, which had me wondering. How will I feel? Will I be able to enjoy myself? Will there be an empty feeling when I come back? I needed some good luck, so I decided to pack my grandfather’s hat in my travel bag right before I left. I had rarely worn his hat and this was really a last minute idea.
We all lose loved ones. Some are gone before we really get to know them. Others are taken just on the brink of seeing how much the world really has to offer them. So very many are lost in the prime of their life. Others must wait what seems to be an eternity and we wonder what holds them here after living a full life.
Regardless of how we lose them the pain and grief some days seems endless and unbearable due to loves and bonds so strong they extend beyond mortal comprehension. There is life after loss.
We know we’ll never forget them but we want the rest of the world to know and remember them with us. We look for opportunities to talk about them and ways to memorialize them.
We erect shrines in their memory in the form of benches and gardens. We plant trees knowing at least they will out live us to somehow carry on the memory of our loved one. We donate our time in their honor. We place objects that remind us of them strategically throughout our day to day lives. We contribute to charities in their names. In essence we look for every way possible to immortalize our loved ones because we will always hold them close to our hearts.