Fall rolls in, burying the summer grass with fallen leaves and yellowed trees. Clouds graze over the world that we live on, hiding the sun, reminding humanity the cool months are nearing. The chilling atmosphere hits without warning, and as the world begins to brown and the sun sets early, loss becomes a battle for many.
People are born and die every day, but losing someone near and dear is an unexplainable feeling.
Consuming thoughts attack loved ones as they wonder what they could have done to prevent such a thing as death, or at least prolong life.
You wish you could have visited one more time; you hope it was a peaceful departure from this world to a possible next; you pray for comfort and healing.
Although this is a difficult thing to read and write about, I find great value in understanding the grieving process – mostly because I am awful at it.
Recently I found myself looking at old photographs of my grandfather; he passed away in 2005 after Alzheimer’s attacked his brain for 15 years and pneumonia eventually took over the rest of his body.
I’m not sure why, but the few memories I have of him, both healthy and sick, have stuck in my head so vividly over the years. His funeral was the first time I ever experienced death so closely, and I remember my four year old cousin touching his hand at the wake and asking my aunt, “Mama, why is he so cold?”
The last memory I have of Grandpa Summers alive was of him lying in bed with a feeding tube inserted under his hospital gown. He could not speak; he did not know my mother or her five siblings, let alone myself.
My grandmother sat by his side and held his hand tightly while we spoke to him.
I never cared to ask if he knew what we were saying, but with my understanding of the disease now I know he wasn’t able to register it.
Regardless, we told him how much he meant to us, and we reflected on past memories with him because that is what you do for people you love. It is what you must do for yourselves when loss is promised.
Since the passing of my grandfather, I have experienced this feeling of separation multiple times, and it does not get easier, no matter how many times you witness it. I was young and didn’t understand the complexity of the disease, and once again it has erupted in my family; this time I am watching from start to finish.
I’m not sure what the end has in store, but I know I will be strong for my family, and I will be strong for myself.
Through all my experiences with loss I have found that each one comes with a lesson.
After my grandfather’s passing, I understood that grieving is a way of coping, and with each other instance, I learned what it means to adapt.
Any type of loss is natural; it is part of our world whether we like it or not. We are allowed to be sad, but when one person leaves this earth it is valuable to know they live on through loved ones and their daily actions.
The awful fact is that death is a part of life, and although it is a scary thing, death need not be feared.
To those of you who are suffering, you are not wrong to be consumed by sorrow, and you are not grieving incorrectly. The depth of what you are feeling is from the love you gave whoever you are grieving.
Having the ability to be free of sorrow is a powerful thing, but it takes time; time takes time, for that matter.
Find value in others so you may embody and share it yourself. Life on earth is not everlasting, but the good we learn, and the lessons we share, can be.