Experiences Impact How We Experience Loss

People lead different lives. Similar and separate lives. That’s how we become individuals. Remain individuals and develop our own selves.

Grief is personal. My loss of our parents is different from my siblings loss of our parents. 

Grief is universal and unifying. We witnessed this with 9/11, uniting our spirits with disbelief and overwhelming loss.

We were in Lyon, France shortly after the 2012 shootings at the Jewish school in Toulouse. I don’t have any photographs of one of the most moving events I ever witnessed. A camera … a phone … would have been intrusive. Ten years later, the moment has never left me. Along the main square of Lyon, serenely attired, walked a procession of dozens and dozens of people. In utter silence. It was to memorialize the country’s collective loss.

It is both presumptuous and understandable to feel sad about a person dying who you didn’t know. We are connected by the experience of grief.

Learning Life Prioritizing When Faced with Grief and Loss

In 2008, I had been teaching a time management workshop for three years. My parents were diagnosed with deadly diseases. My perspective on time changed.

In February, Dad was told he had ALS. There is still no cure. None.

In March, Mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. This disease can be overcome. But not easily by someone whose immune system was already compromised by Graves disease and other issues.

My parents had termination dates that crept toward reality, not the vague some-days we all live with.

For months after dad’s diagnosis he was able to do quite a bit. I asked him for a list of what he wanted to do while he could. My goal was to help him in any way I could. I regret not buying us tickets to Hawaii. Dad always wanted to return to Oahu his Army time there ended in 1952. 

My friend, Dawn once said, “It amazes me when elderly are not scared of dying. I don’t know if some day, things just make sense or what.”

Two days before Dad died, he organized himself. He had us call several of his friends to come and visit. Dad had my aunt come to cut his hair and made sure my brother helped him shave. To us, he was the same as he had been, but Dad knew the end was coming. The next day he was still great, but the following day, he was gone. It was an experience, to see Dad doing all that, to realize afterwards his intentions.

Black & white photo of couple in 1950s

Grief and Loss

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Words We Utter When Confronted With Death

Loss … right now, at this moment, it’s easy to flippantly say, none of us gets out of life alive. When no one around me is ill or death is on the horizon, we can be casual about our loss. 

Trying to find humor during the confrontation of death is us deflecting what we know is coming. When my 30-year-old cousin died, a 70-year-old cousin said, “Makes you wonder if God doesn’t get tired of having old folks for company.” She nailed a perspective, didn’t she?

When You Lose Someone, You have Grief and Loss

Talk to me. I am not afraid of your grief. If I give you space when you lose a loved one, it is not fear that gives me distance. It is surviving grief of my own that wants to give you a little room to  experience your emotions.

I am here.

Birthdays Bring Heavy Grief

Mom died in August and her birthday is in February. So the first birthday after her death came while Dad was still with us. We did what we could to keep him from only being in the sadness.

Dad died in April and his birthday is in November. Seems we have the range of the year covered. After losing them, my siblings and I checked in with each other. But that got difficult. The last several years, we all pointedly do not talk on those dates. 

When I Pass

No matter when I die, it will be too soon. My projects will be incomplete—my friendships will not have lasted long enough. But please don’t be sad that I have gone. The closer I have grown to God in my faith, the easier it has gotten to contemplate saying good-bye. Yes, I can say that while I’m in my sixties and healthy. I know, we all end. There is no other way out. So breathe deep and celebrate the life I had—your life—what a ride.