Love and Loss
As we move through our days, busy with the chaos, the excitement, and the mundane, there are moments we are struck with deep gratitude for our aliveness—if we’re lucky. A spontaneous adventure with friends, a warm smile from our dog, a calm morning on the water as the sun envelops you. Weaved into this moment we feel the sense of implicit grief, knowing that this moment is not forever. A heavy gift to hold, this ill-fated joy that is called life.
I’m not okay
“I feel so alone Rachelle.” This message from my mother who just lost her Chocolate Lab, Miley. The sudden absence of love can become a fever that rises with searing physicality. As we acquaint ourselves with this new and different world, the memories of our love come flooding our thoughts and inflame our pain further. Eventually growing tired we descend into darkness. The loss serves only to intensify meaning in what was.
When you lose someone, you don’t lose them all at once; you lose them in pieces over a stretch of time — the way the footsteps down the hall stop coming, the way the scent fades from the pillow beside you, and the way what used to be small ordinary rituals suddenly become big poignant treasures.
I understand all too intimately, all too painfully, the anguish of what loss is about. I somehow think if I just try hard enough it will work out. If I love deeply enough, I will be spared.
The thing about grief is that it’s never easy and you aren’t going to feel better right away. There is simply nothing you can do, or hear from your friend that will snap you out of it. Even if you attempt to stuff your pain way down inside, it will find its way to the surface—eventually.
It is in accepting this pain where you locate the path to healing. Yes, it’s brutal, it hurts, it’s gutting, and all you want to do is collapse into a mess of tears—that’s okay. Do it. You have permission to feel like garbage right now.
As the grieving person’s friend, it’s tempting to try and fix their pain, to say “It could be worse.” “You just need a good distraction.” “It’ll get better.” or some other well-meaning comment aimed to to help. But the fixing or suggesting only makes the person feel more misunderstood and alone. It’s much more helpful to acknowledge their tragic reality and simply be present with them in their suffering—even when things cannot be made right, you make things a little better.
Capacity to love
Each time we move towards love, we are moving towards inevitable pain. But in our amnesia of the previous blow we experienced, there is a particular courage that is essential for a life well-lived. The tears are not the mark of weakness, but of bravery.
If we give up after the first experience of loss, we would have never experience all of the beautiful moments in between then and now. To grieve is to be lucky, for it means you were lucky enough to partake in the beautiful, wondrous and wildness of life. You were lucky enough to experience profound love and connection. It is impossible to get through a life without living through the most gutting of human experiences: love and loss. The irony of partaking in love is to willingly partake in loss.
I want to acknowledge my parents on their courage through the loss of their companion Miley…
“Today was a Difficult Day,” said Pooh.
There was a pause.
“Do you want to talk about it?” asked Piglet.
“No,” said Pooh after a bit. “No, I don’t think I do.”
“That’s okay,” said Piglet, and he came and sat beside his friend.
“What are you doing?” asked Pooh.
“Nothing, really,” said Piglet. “Only, I know what Difficult Days are like. I quite often don’t feel like talking about it on my Difficult Days either.
“But goodness,” continued Piglet, “Difficult Days are so much easier when you know you’ve got someone there for you. And I’ll always be here for you, Pooh.”
And as Pooh sat there, working through in his head his Difficult Day, while the solid, reliable Piglet sat next to him quietly, swinging his little legs…he thought that his best friend had never been more right.
– AA Milne