In one way or another we hope that at some point in our lives we do not have to experience losing a loved one. Though it may cross our minds briefly, one never truly is prepared to deal with losing someone dear to them. In 2009, I had my first experience. I lost a friend to gun violence at a local community center to someone he never met a day in his life. In 2013, I fell into a deep depression when I lost a brother figure to another senseless act of violence. In December 2016, my family dealt with it’s first blow when my uncle lost his sudden fight with stage IV cancer exactly a week after his birthday. Though I can say I have been blessed not to have a lot of final losses in my life; it still hurts me just the same.
In all three of these scenarios I have gone through what they call the grieving process; however the order of the process, I have been through it. As ugly as it has been, I am getting through it. Because truth is, from my experience, the grieving process never ends. As life goes on without my loved ones, I have learned to accept that they are no longer with us. Though with time it gets a little easier & I may not think of them every day as I did initially; their absence rings loudest to me during celebratory events they are no longer here for. Eventually pictures of them start to age & all we have left are the memories. With that being said, in all 3 scenarios, at some point, I was riddled with regret wishing there was more time to spend with them & tell them that I loved them with a wish that I could have done something to prevent the inevitable.
In life, unfortunately as we get older we start realizing that death is not so uncommon & that loss gets closer to our hearts. The passing of our grandparents, friends, siblings, parents & children start to plague us but some how we are expected to get through the day. Our jobs gives us 3 days & we are told by whomever, with whatever letters behind their names, that generally the true grieving process, from start to finish, takes about a year. Bless the soul this is true for because it surely is not true for me. Sometimes I am crushed thinking of the experiences they may never get to experience or the things they will never get to see. I get moved to melancholy or joy when I hear certain songs or if the weather is a certain way.
I tell myself often that had I known I would lose them when I did I would have prepared myself. I would have cherished every moment & though I was as good as I could have been while they were here on earth, somehow I often feel I could have been better. But then I realize, I truly gave them the best version of myself I could have because what I gave them was me; genuinely. They got all of me even if it was for a shorter period of time. They saw the real, the raw & the ugly. They have seen the good & the bad. Shoot, sometimes they even felt it. But it was authentic. They got the sides of me that I do not believe they would have seen if I prepared myself for them leaving so soon.
So today, I tell you that if you have not dealt with loss yet, sadly, one day you will. If you are dealing with loss please keep this in mind. Despite what may cross your mind, I want you to know that there is nothing you could have done to prevent this. I also want you to know that regardless of how hard it is you can not stop living because they have; they would not want it that way. Instead, we have to live in their memory. Live for them. Have the experiences they would not be able to have but relish in your moments to your fullest. It is not realistic of me to tell you not to be sad & I will not bore you with cliches telling you why you should not be sad. Instead, I say be sad; feeling every emotion, whether sad or happy, it keeps them alive. It is ok to feel out of sorts & it is ok to miss them. It is also ok to wonder if life’s little miracles are small gestures from them telling you they are ok. It is ok to be hopeful that they are with you & watching over you. Most importantly, it is ok to LOVE them more each day they are gone because it is YOU who keeps them alive. I urge you though, do things at your own time. Do not rush your healing by the timeline of someone else. Instead, accept the pitfalls & the lows. If you need assistance getting through the hurdle it is ok to seek it. Strive to do anything that allows you to be your best self, even if your best self seems so far away. You will come around. It is hard now, it will be hard later but it is how you evolve in these moments that will make those who have passed on proud.