When sorrow hits us it often feels like a ton of bricks raining down upon us. The bricks wipe out everything we thought we knew and not only that, but the ground also shifts, and we can’t find where to put our feet. Our earth, that solid foundation we have stood on forever has vanished in an instant.
When grief rips us apart we have nowhere to turn. There is no safe passage back to where we once lived. There is nothing before us, behind us, to the side of us, underneath us, there is nothing left. We are alone with our deep pain and nothing, absolutely nothing we can think of can change that. We are living with a hell inside us that will not budge.
Losing a Loved One Can Send Us Spiraling
I thought of this feeling today when I read about a friend of mine who is sad about someone she knows with Alzheimer’s disease. I know she wrote about her sadness because she is trying to come to grips with losing someone too soon. When I read her message, I thought of my own history of losing those I loved long before I expected. This is what I remember.
Pain, sorrow, disappointment, disbelief and an overall feeling of this can’t be happening. This isn’t supposed to happen. Why is this happening. I can’t stand that it is happening.
Finding the Strength to Go On Can Be Hard, In the Wake of Loss
Our grief is sometimes so sudden and upon us we feel like we will suffocate, or die, or just not be able to do life anymore. This difficult life experience impacts every human alive. And every one of us has our own unique way of handling our pain. Some of us just keep walking, as if the movement alone will keep us alive through the horror. Others, like me, fall apart and flail around until we can take a step. Just one step.
For me, losing my brother and then my sister, 15 years apart, were the two most challenging times in my life. My favorite people in the world, gone from the planet. Gone from my human life on earth. How could I survive that? How could I go on? Why would I?
And yet here I am. Continuing to do what I can on this planet. Living my life, helping others, finding my way to keep going. And above all learning how to live well. Finding joy where there is joy, feeling happiness when there is happiness, loving others when they are near.
Loss Is a Hard Lesson, But It Teaches Us…
How do we learn what is important in life? We learn when we lose what we love. We learn when we are ripped apart. We learn because the alternative is worse: to live in pain and suffering, because of loss, is much worse. So, when death comes to us in ways we are ill-prepared, we must all face our moment. Will I find my way? Will I fold up and hibernate to avoid any more pain? Will I open up to the world and experience life more fully? Each of us will make our choice.
I wrote back my friend who is sad about losing someone to Alzheimer’s. I said, “Sorrow is how we are taught to love.” I believe that. I live that. It’s the hard work of life. It’s what we must all learn.