Grief is a very personal and painful experience. Whatever means we use to find solace in our time of grief is significant and should be valued. I lost my mother to breast cancer at the age of sixteen. It was, as one could imagine a great shock to us all. A friend said to me in a strange consolation “I don’t know how I (meaning herself) would ever get through that kind of grief.” I said in a very stoic way I’m sure, “You just do.” She then repeated my words which evidently struck her…”You just do.”
As we drove away from the hospital after my mom passed away in my shock and grief, my greatest fear was that I would forget her: her face, her hands, her voice and eyes. I thought “well, now it’s been an hour since I’ve seen her. Someday it’ll be a year then five years, then ten!” Now, here it is twenty years this past August since I’ve seen her beautiful eyes in person. But here is the great, great thing about feelings, dreams, and yes, even grief. She is with me and I feel her – it may sound cliche or like my own fantasy hope but seriously, there have been several times where I had a dream of her and I woke up and I felt her presence-viscerally. This website is about listening to and honoring your senses and using your intellect to help sort through and deal with challenges we all face. Grief over a loved one is one of the biggest heartaches in our collective human experience.
I have tried to remove myself, to comprehend, even to get over this event but I know now that it is impossible. I’ve surrendered to that because it shapes every moment of your life after something like that happens. You no longer see people and the world in the same way. I really understand how fragile and impermanent this all is because I witnessed it first hand. My perception of time changed too. Most teenagers have an invincibility attached to their behavior-that was never a part of my viewpoint of the world.
A lot of stages in my life have been affected. Simple events many people take for granted like shopping for clothes with mom, graduations, marriage all had to be done with a great deal of autonomy. Questions like how can I bring someone else through childhood, there exists a deep seeded fear of doing this to someone else. That fear comes out of living with a strong thread tied to my original grief.
I love her artwork, it is somewhat Japanese meets Art Nouveau in style. There are so many canvases, they are so incredible and I don’t know what to do with them all. It’s a great task, they’re haunting me-they’re huge and amazing. That was her greatest gift to me was teaching me her attitude toward painting. There was never a mistake-you could fix any line or color that you felt was out of place and it can evolve into something else!
Now, my point about all this is that despite my terrible fear of forgetting her features, her voice and her presence that strange day, it never came true. I will never forget her-it’s simply impossible. I remember everything. I close my eyes and I see her eyes, beautiful smoky-green. I even remember how her energy felt like little bubbles, and I trust it. It is as real to me as anything.
We are in deed able to maintain our connection to ones we lose. We never forget a loved one. They are part of us, and even when we think of them and cry, it is a gift of memory. My friend was wrong, you never really “get through that kind of grief.” That would be unnatural in my experience. You need to cope in life of course, but to pretend that it has no lasting effect is not accurate. So, however you find solace in your time of loss and grief, embrace it.