How Death Brings Us Together

I was utterly terrified to hit the publish button on my last post, The Day Death Ripped My World Apart. In fact, WordPress tells me I made 83 revisions to the post before making it public. Perhaps that’s a clue on just how anxious I was to share my words with the world.

But almost 600 Facebook shares and a couple thousand readers later, I am so glad I did it. The emails, messages, and Facebook comments I received were touching. It blew me away that something I had to say could have such an impact.

I truly hope that anyone facing their own loss will see that they’re not alone, that they can make it through these dark days.


Friendship Through Loss

Over the last year, I have met many new friends, and these friendships formed over a common bond: losing a loved one. It’s a heartbreaking commonality, but I’m so grateful these people are in my life.

They have an intimate understanding of the profound grief that infiltrates your being after a loved one dies. They understand the crazy, the anger, the sadness and longing, the guilt, the desperation, and the impossible moments of unexpected joy.

I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share these same feelings with you.

Every loss is different, every relationship has a unique dynamic, and every person copes with grief differently. But when you boil it all down, loss is loss. We are all human, and our experiences are intricately woven together. It’s easy to forget this in every day life. I hope the person I am today is more attuned to this simple truth, more compassionate with the people in my life, even strangers.

Pregnancy: A metaphor for grief

My Uncle Geoff wrote to me after my last post and shared some of his own writing after the death of his wife – my Auntie Joan – five years ago. I wanted to share some excerpts here, to echo my belief that the darkest, most painful moments can be overcome.

“I observed this closing down of Joan’s body and functions over forty minutes of wonderful, heart wrenching and raging, tearful sobbing on my behalf, knowing Joan was fully at peace with her life and achievements on earth… My experience of Joan’s passing was such a difficult challenge to accept and bear; something I had to force myself to get right as each minute passed. It was outstandingly the most difficult yet the most rewarding challenge I’ve ever achieved…

One thing Joan often said to me if I complained about being kept waiting in a queue was, “your mother waited nine months for you!” After four weeks of agonizing illness (pneumonia and two cardiac arrests), Joan kept me waiting 37 hours to make her mind up and 40 minutes to complete her perfect entry to Heaven. I can assure you the joy and delight, pleasure, anguish and pain was akin to what I imagine, as a man, 9 months of a woman’s childbearing experience must feel like.

Since these experiences I’ve wondered why I couldn’t join Joan on her next stage of life. Well, age apart, I have to aspire to Joan’s teachings on the values she placed on life and, not least, support, encourage and lead family, colleagues and friends to emulate Joan’s enormous zest for living life to the full: achieving ambitions and gaining the total respect of her lifetime friends and acquaintances.”

It’s interesting that he compares his grief to pregnancy, as I have often thought the same thing. It’s the way grief seems to become a part of you, inside your belly, inside your soul; the way you’re always conscious of its being there, even when you’re busy with something else; the way the hardest days of your grief feel like the breathless anguish of labor. But then, at the same time, there’s the tiny spark of potential that lies within you, the terrifying possibility that there is new life somewhere inside.

My deepest hope is that if you know how this feels, you will one day find the light filtering through the cracks.

Thank you so much to everyone who has shared my words. I’m truly grateful for the opportunity to help people find a scrap of peace.

Child holding hand photo courtesy of mcdarius

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