Yesterday a friend/client/colleague let me know that her close friend had died last weekend. We knew it was coming, but the end was sudden. Even when you know death is coming and it is inevitable, it is still and always a shock.
“Even if you know what’s coming, you’re never prepared for how it feels.” Natalie Standiford
The lady in question and I had spoken on the phone, I’d spoken to her husband too. We’d become good Facebook friends and I’d watched her story unfold over the last couple of years. I’d been a part of their final adventures as they both shared with us all their love of life and travel and friends and Scottish rugby and boy did they know how to party.
She and I had PMd every now and again. It’s a wrench. But this isn’t my loss, I hardly knew her. My heart goes out to those she loved and who loved her. I am careful not to take ownership of another’s grief and muscle in on what’s not mine to own, it’s offensive.
About a year ago, I lost another friend/client/colleague. She was diagnosed in November 2016 and went on ahead of all of us in February 2017. Three months. All too soon and she wasn’t ready to go, she still had lots to do in this life. This loss was much closer I knew this woman well and loved her. She was a close friend. This is more of a personal loss which I still feel quite keenly.
How those closer to these wonderful women fill the holes in their lives, I have no idea.
About two years ago, I lost another in that same category of friend and colleague, taken all too soon. Again, not without warning, but a body blow when it came about.
In 2006 I ran a coaching group for about twenty people, all but one of them women. Four of those women have since died, one after a long battle, the other three after short, sharp shocks.
In 2005 my Mother died.
In 1992 my Father died.
I am no stranger to death, loss and bereavement. It is a part of life, a part we are mostly protected from when we are younger, though that isn’t guaranteed either.
With the exception of my parents, all this death and dying happened all wrong. All those I have listed above died young. All of them were younger than me and, at 62, I am not old. In those circumstances, and at pretty much all funerals, I cannot help but wonder why they were taken and I have been spared. It can spur you on to live more or better or differently, and to do your best or to do whatever the hell you want so long as you make your own best of this great gift of life.
We learn to live with loss, and we the bereaved are given another gift, that of being able to help others through. The greatest gift you can provide to the newly bereaved, especially the first-timers, is just to listen, just to be with them, not to be embarrassed, not to cross the road to the other side. Be with them for as long and as often as they want to talk, rant, rave and cry. All better out than in.
Death happens, and mostly it isn’t our choice. What does help in a strange and brutal way is that the bloody sun goes on rising and setting, rising and setting. And eventually, in your own time (and this isn’t a race or a competition) you grab a hold of life again and pass back into the land of the living from the land of the existing.
- There’s no right way to handle loss and grief.
- There’s no way to be eloquent or elegant about it, even if that were appropriate.
- It’s all snotty tears and the full gamut of emotions from denial to acceptance.
- You just muddle through the best you can, knowing that this too is life.
- And, whenever you are ready, you let the tears fall.
Yesterday (what a day!) a client wrote to let me know her dog had died. I told her there was a lot of it about.