What did it mean that there were no handbooks for me? That people asked me to be strong in the face of the biggest loss I'd ever experienced or imagined? At times I felt like I didn't deserve to feel so shattered, especially in the shadow of my parents' immense loss.
It was like my memory only went back two and a half years, to the hospital room after Rob's original surgery, waiting for him to wake up. That is my image. With amnesia for any life of my own before that moment. And now the memories are coming back. Filling the blank spaces in me.
You know better than to say something like, "He/she is in a better place" or "You're lucky you have other children," don't you? Here's a list of other well-meaning blunders reported by bereaved parents that have made us squirm.
Among all the lessons borne from losing my husband to cancer, the one I see clearest is this: The best way to memorialize a loved one is to choose life. When life feels hard, I tell myself to keep going. I tell my children the same thing.
Technological advancement is considered human advancement, but somewhere along the line, we have become sloppy about keeping up with the very things that make us human. How can anything compare to the words I say as I look into the eyes of someone important to me?
To be there with my mother at this sacred time of her life, was the greatest gift I have ever received. We -- her family -- were her ushers. Taking her hand and escorting her from this world to the next.
This is the life you are called to be present for. This is the moment that asks for your awareness. Not because you are improved by what has happened, not because you needed it, not so you can turn it into some kind of gift.
You alone carry the knowledge of how your grief lives in you. You alone know all the filaments of life and of love that fly through you. You alone know how deeply your life is now changed. You alone have to face this, inside your own heart.
We need to develop some skillful means both to witness grief, and to live in grief. We need to learn how to support rather than to solve. We need to practice being in there with grief, rather than getting out of it. And we need to hear the distinction between the two.
No one can help you here, not even your mate. You must depend upon your own resource for, in reality, it is that resource that will bring you back to life. The essential self, given time, can reconnect and guide you back up out of the descent.
Whether it is 1922 or 2014, coping with grief is a complex and deeply personal process. Lady Sybil and Matthew Crawley, demonstrate some basic principles about getting through a tragic loss that are as true today as they were in generations past.
It's true that unexpected death messes with your world in a way few things can. Adding to this list, or creating a whole new one of your own, might give you just the tiniest roadmap inside a wholly disorienting time.
Mom's fur coat had been hanging in my closet ever since I moved her out to California six months before she died. When we want to get our coats out, we push it to the right, and when we want to get our luggage, we push it to the left. We have been pushing that coat back and forth for 10 years.
The last time I saw Ben Wheeler, he and his big brother Nate were eating chocolate-chip pancakes and being terribly silly. Nine months after the pancake breakfast, I got a strange voicemail: There had been another school shooting, this time in Connecticut.
After two exhaustive rounds of chemotherapy over a couple of years, Robert, my husband of 42 years, could just not ever get warm. The heat was set up high, there were heaters in every room and we got an electric blanket for the bed.
We don't have to pretend to enjoy the winter if spring is our preference, but what if we could consciously embrace the season, understanding it is a prerequisite -- a rite of passage -- for the spring to follow.