Admittedly, my word this week is slightly morbid; however, drawing my inspiration from everyday life, sometimes life offers up sadness, or grief, or in this case bereavement.
I love the definition I have found for bereavement: the condition of having been deprived of something or someone valued. So simply stated, so succinct, so profoundly presented. I am sure that anyone who has ever lost someone who is special to them, feels as though they have been deprived of one of the most valuable blessings in their life. Perhaps that's part of what makes letting go so hard. We feel like these people who are a part of our lives, belong in our lives. Sometimes maybe we even feel like they were stolen from us. Or that their lives were stolen from them.
One of the hardest parts of dealing with bereavement is most definitely hearing 'the news'. Sure, I heard the words come out of someone's mouth, or I read the text or email that someone has written, but do I really believe it? Right away, I feel my hand reaching for the phone, while I tell myself it's not true. If I could just call them, they would answer and I would know this wasn't real. But something stops me from making that call. Knowing that if this is indeed real, I wouldn't want to hurt their family members by making them explain everything to me once again. What makes this stage even more difficult is distance. If it's already been so long since I've last seen them, or I've only been in touch through phone calls, emails, letters; it seems so much harder to wrap my mind around the thought of not being able to reach them anymore.
After some time, I have to face the fact that this isn't some horribly cruel joke, and that wave of sadness that has constantly been on my heels, trying to overtake me, finally catches my heart with it's fingertips, slowly engulfing my delicate organ entirely, wrapping it up in pain.
And then of course the anger comes in. It's not fair! Why is it that some die and others live? But the one question burning within me personally is: Who or what decides when each life will end? I can't help but question everything about life, and even what happens after life. But I'm only left wondering.
Once the anger subsides, it seems like I must make way for blame. I blame myself. I blame the doctors. Sometimes maybe I even blame the person I lost. But perhaps blame isn't fair. Maybe, if it's our time, it's our time, and if there's nothing we can do about that, then it's nobody's fault?
Finally releasing the burden of blame, I try shaking off the mountain of guilt that is slowly piling upon me now, weighing me down. I should have told them this. I should have done that. I should have visited them more. I should have been there for them, at the end. This part of grief is my least favourite because if only I'd known, I wouldn't be left wanting to say goodbye. But most times we have no warning, and we're always left wishing we'd called one more time, or gotten those pictures sent sooner, or taken every possible opportunity to let that person know how much we care about them, and appreciate them, how grateful we are to have them in our life!!
I know eventually I will reach a place where I will no longer feel such an immense sadness when I hear this person's name, see their picture, or smell that perfume they always used to wear. Eventually all of that will dissipate and I will be left with fond memories reminding me of the warmth and love I felt, and still feel, for this person, bringing smiles and the occasional giggle with them. This is the hardest place to reach, but I know I'll get there..... eventually.
In the meantime, I can't help but wonder if we would be better off knowing exactly how much time we have, for then we would most definitely make the most of it. But then I wonder, would we really? Maybe the fear and anticipation leading up to those final days would only make things worse.
There really is no easy way of dealing with death, and I'm sure that death will forever haunt us with it's partner, bereavement. Even though we know and we say, it's a fact of life, that doesn't make the pain go away. It doesn't make the tears stop pouring. And it doesn't make us stop missing whomever we lost.
In the end, death at least makes us realize how precious life really is.