Grief and the loss of a loved oneGrief 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.
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4 Thoughts on “Grief and the loss of a loved one

  1. Pingback: Tips for Cancer Caregivers: Ask For Help | Support Groups for Cancer Patients & Family Members

  2. Hi!
    Sorry for your loss. I lost someone because of cancer to. Something that I cannot forget until these days.

  3. Thank you. I hope this article helped you in some way. Below is a very helpful excerpt from a book entitled, “Aromatherapy an A-Z” by Patricia Davis. I found her information very useful and thoughtfully insightful. This is from an entry called “Grief”:

    “In some books on aromatherapy, you will find certain oils mentioned as helping allay grief. My belief is that it is the loving care of the therapist, rather than the oil, which is important(i.e. one of these oils in a bath would be far less helpful). However one or two oils do seem to be exceptionally comforting when used in massage.
    Rose is perhaps best of all. I sometimes use it alone, and sometimes combine it with Benzoin, which has a degree of warmth about it. Marjoram is another very warming oil, and is very good if there is an element of loneliness combined with grief, such as after bereavement; but this is really an area for sensitive consultation between the therapist and the grieving person, and you might consider the uplifting Bergamot, soothing Chamomile, or Lavender or Melissa if any of them feel more appropriate.
    The Bach Flower Remedies combine well with aromatherapy in such situations, but you may sometimes feel that other forms of help, such as bereavement counseling, would also be beneficial.”

  4. Mom, and 2 Aunts and 1 Uncle to Cancer on May 26, 2009 at 12:49 pm said:

    That was very good in our shadows as we listen and watch, reflect as we walk in your moccasins a mile. We connect from the point to the end. Colors we paint and some we can’t connect the dots, we leave streaming… thinking….holding those hearts that were dear to us. Not one can replace another….especially that of our dear mother…she left 5 children to finish her writings and smilings, and what she started,….some people don’t understand…she even played drums in my dad’s band…She really was a children’s play mate as she got out her best doll furniture, she shared her world and accepted so little………she is the best mother never forgot…like you can never see the loves vase full of flowers bottom.

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