Ways to Deal with Loss
If you don’t know the feeling I have experienced so many times recently, I want to congratulate you. From the bottom of my heart I wish you that it will take many many more years until you experience that feeling. The feeling that makes your throat tie up, your muscles lose tension and your eyes watery. The feeling of loss of a loved one.
How do you deal with this feeling? With the overwhelming truth of knowing that you can never go back and relive certain memories? Never share a good joke or a deep talk with that dear person again? Answers and advice to that question lie around every corner. It’s a good business. Everyone of us will experience it at some point in their lifetime and many of us are not prepared. There are self-help books en masse, counselling hours dedicated to loss at your closest psychologist and if you type “ways to deal with loss” into the google search bar, you’ll find more articles than you could ever read in your life time. And they are good. Some of them impress you, some inspire you and some even let the corner of your mouth twist upwards for a brief second again. But what they don’t do is help coping with the feeling of loss. They help you understand loss, process the situation on a higher level, but they never touch the deeply anchored feeling of loss. No one can. Or so I thought.
When I was around ten to twelve, I saw a movie of a great hero who wanted to become immortal. His mother told him that the only way to become immortal is to live such a great life that people will not forget about you. That your story is passed on through the generations. As long as there is still a person remembering you and your story, you are not really gone. A cheesy line whose truth can be debated. But I had to think of it recently when I met my own personal hero. A 74-year-old woman who’s living in a small row house, never received a higher education, married young and lived for her husband, children and grand-children. A woman with a challenging past, but so much joy for the little things. I have known her for quite a while now, but just recently she became my hero. The reason for it: I have never met anyone who loves life more than her. She recently lost her husband. The man she has loved and lived with almost all her life. The man she relied on and cared for. No one could imagine one of them without the other. And now he is gone. But she didn’t hide in a cave with a blanket on top of her head like I have seen so many other people do. She also didn’t run away and tried to bury her grief in new experiences. No, she just kept on living. Of course, she was sad, but she started meeting friends to play cards with again, organized small weekend trips to close-by towns and invited her family over for coffee and cake. Things she couldn’t do while caring for her sick husband. While doing so, she kept talking about her husband, sharing memories about him and reminiscing about them with people who shared the same. It was as if he was never really gone. As cheesy as it sounds, maybe there is a little truth to the things the mother in the movie said. All I know is that my feeling of loss slowly started to hurt less. I caught myself doing the same thing. Showing that I think of the lost person, everytime something reminded me of him. And not feeling tears welling up again when I did so, but feeling a smile on my lips.
If you have experienced this kind of loss you know that the feeling will never really go away. It starts to hurt less, but it will always be there. They say, time heals all wounds. But I don’t think it is time that does this. It is our own attitude towards life that has to change and sometimes people need a bit more time for that.
Photo Credit: The Tao of NeVerdun “Shine On” by Michael Verdun