No matter the year, the time of year, life and its beat keeps going on. And on. If we like it or not, it does. Things we don’t want to happen do. We cannot stop it. Since this long awaited year began a few days ago, we have learned of three families who have had someone pass away. There are those who will say terrible things about 2020 and the “curse,” but that’s not right. It’s life. It’s our human experience. We lose people.
One was a man in Ohio, who dated a friend of ours. Even though the relationship ended, there is still a feeling of loss. You feel bad for his family, and for his former girlfriend. Losses that are sudden are difficult. I believe he was in his 70s.
One was the mother of my good friend. She was about 90; I believe. They lost her a long time ago, to dementia. It is a blessing, yet there are still feelings and a significant loss. I believe once you lose both of your parents; you become orphans, regardless of your age. Sure, you’ve been on your own for decades (hopefully) but you still can see your parent(s) and talk to them (Lord willing). It was another sudden loss, even in these circumstances, you want to say goodbye.
The last one was tougher to hear about. A young 47-year-old man, a friend’s son-in-law. I haven’t been able to verify yet, but I think he just married her daughter last fall. They worried about having the wedding during COVID. If this is true, it’s a wonderful thing they did. Life is so fragile. You just never know. Now, his wife and children are wondering what, why, and how? This is hard to witness and experience.
So what can we do? We can learn to just be there. We don’t have to do anything but listen. Don’t offer platitudes of, “He’s in a better place,” “She is so much better off,” or “God only gives you what you can handle.” When your grief is huge, those things do no good, except alienate your friend from you. Any comment of, “Let us know if you need anything,” is most often to no avail. I’ve rarely called anyone to help. Most of us don’t. If you call and offer something specific, “I’ll bring over some lasagna,” “Let me pick up paper products for your families to use,” and perhaps one of the best things is call them after everyone leaves. Everyone else goes home after the funeral and resumes their own lives.
A person who has just experienced loss cannot resume their life as it was. I know if I outlive the Babe, there will be something HUGE missing from my life. From our bed, to our couch, to our dining table. Experience tells me I will live through it; experience also tells me I don’t want to have to feel all of it. But you have to. The more you feel and talk about, the sooner you will heal.
When our dad died, even though we knew he wouldn’t live until Christmas that year, it was still a shock when he died. He died on December 7, 1988. What a day of infamy for our family! In less than a month, we experienced Christmas and his birthday. A lot to cope with. Mom is a rather stoic person, and she would not talk about anything about his dying. She didn’t allow us to talk about him in her presence, so we all were quiet. It was very dysfunctional and all four of us grieved in terrible, destructive ways. Some turned to more drink and more drugs. Some isolated ourselves to insulate against the pain. The pain went to other people because of that.
This is a topic no one wants to discuss very frequently, and it’s one that should be part of our education. You should know how to do your income taxes and learn how to grieve. How the adults in a child’s life handle grief is what the children will mimic as they grow older. Break the cycle of stoicism and silence. We can only learn by what we observe. Let’s be mindful as we continue into 2021. All the “bad things” about life remain with us, despite new goals and a refreshed attitude.
Learn to Deal. Don’t sidestep. You need to meet it head on. You’ll get through it better. You’ll help yourself and others by talking. Telling stories is healthy and necessary. Your stories are how your loved ones will live on. It’s our duty to talk and listen. I hope my kids will talk about me, and I hope it’s good!
My friends at the Centering Corporation in Omaha, Nebraska, are an excellent source of information about grieving. They have books, materials, workshops, and support for those of us who grieve. They have an impressive story, check them out. It is a treasure for when we need it.
As I remember my friends and their losses today, I hope we all are kind to each other. I hope we are all patient with each other. I hope we are loving to each other. Forgive old wrongs. It’s ok to stay away from someone toxic, forgiveness can have boundaries attached. We can learn how to do that.
This year will have its share of joy, kindness, loss, change, love, and whatever we put into it. Leave out the negatives. Kick hatred, malice, gossip, meanness, and nastiness to the curb. Be kind. Be thoughtful. Be how you want to be about. It will make all the difference in the world. Thank you for being here today. I’ll see you tomorrow. Blessings.