Nothing can prepare you for hearing those words, of realising that too soon you have to face up to such a harsh truth. Its knowledge that once gained alters everything else from that moment on. It is like the moment freezes, and suddenly normal body functions, such as breathing, become laboured as though the weight of this awful thing is physically, as well as emotionally bearing down on you.
A friend of mine has recently gone through the trauma of the death of her Father. When the news that his illness had taken a turn for the worse and had become life threatening, she was actually with me.
I felt futile; what can anyone say or do to relieve such sorrow and the empty hollowness that such events bring; nothing, no one can make it all better and take that from you. No words fit such a dramatic and profound event, it is beyond such things.
Such events change us I heard, and not just mentally and emotionally but actually physically too. For two years after a death those who are left behind have to also endure a physical change to their bodies as a result of loss and grief. I think this change never heals, how can it? You are not, nor ever will be the same person before that person died.
‘They’ do say a lot of things about death, like if we all experience things the same way. I am aware that grief moves in a process, and it does; after time this process should be completed and the individual remaining should be free of the feeling of loss and sadness (so ‘they’ say). For me that has never been the case.
My friend’s loss resonated with me; in that poignant and raw moment, that to be honest was fairly surreal for me, my own experiences of losing a loved one was quickly revived. I realised I was uncomfortable with the whole thing. I wasn’t able to deal with or cope with the unresolved feelings in myself, that were brought forth by my friend’s own heart breaking news.
My lingering grief remains extremely difficult to discuss, and for me the emotions and sadness are like raw and exposed nerves, which to this day cause me great distress. Even typing this, and thinking about what I want to say here, is more overwhelming than I thought it would be. I can feel the emotion sitting like a mound in my chest; it feels heavy and tight, I feel stressed and dizzy, afraid and upset. It’s almost like shock.
I am obviously not detached from the death of my loved ones, especially one in particular.
What prompted me to want to write this entry was something that happened a few nights ago. I have been thinking about this, although trying not to. It has been a while since I dreamt of the person I lost, but this dream was more vivid than ever I recall. They were back, standing in their house surrounded by other family members. I recall being immediately eager to see them. I pushed through a couple of people to get to this person, and we hugged each other tightly. I told the person I’d missed them so much, and feared I’d never see them again. This person said they knew that, but that they were with me, and had been watching me and were proud of me.
It was my final dream before waking. I got up and sat on the sofa and cried.
I haven’t told anyone else about this, the reason I write it here is that it is anonymous, and no one knows me, nor will anyone in my life have to know that right now, I am crying typing these words. I am obviously still affected by a death that occurred over 10 years ago. This is something I cannot resolve for myself, I haven’t the power to make it OK for myself.
The person I still mourn was special to me, that person shaped my life and is part of who I am. If I am selfish for wishing they were still here to talk to, ask advice of, hear their opinions, debate politics with or just laugh with, then I am and I don’t think that is a flaw. I don’t want them not to rest wherever they are, they deserve to be free of their body and to be happy in a good place; but I still miss them.
This death was an unexpected event. People used to say, ‘Oh, that is a good thing no suffering’; well let me tell you it wasn’t a good death for those of us who loved that person. That was just un-thoughtful and infuriating to hear. It was like they made light of the trauma and loss, as though we should have been grateful.
There were no goodbyes for us, no time to put things in order, hear the last words, and give one final kiss. No way of understanding, coming to terms with anything. How could it have been that one moment this person was alive, and the next gone forever, where no one could follow them. I couldn’t understand the difference in those moments, like a light had been switched off. Why that person had be extinguished in such an extreme manner, with all the evidence left behind that they had merely just stepped out, and would return at any given moment. It was cruel.
I couldn’t get that straight for years; that severed separation without warning left a deep wound. I kept asking the questions, wanting all the medical reasons and I hated everything and everyone for it being as it was. It was like unfinished business. I felt cheated, lied to and deceived, guilty too. In those moments I would have gladly shared my own life with that person so they could have lived on. I begged for that and prayed for it. Death couldn’t be the end.
What made it worse was the fact there had been this over bearing feeling of doom. A lingering and awful feeling that wouldn’t leave. I felt something terrible was going to happen, something I couldn’t change. In fact I felt it on that very morning of that person’s death, and ignored it. I didn’t go and see that person as something inside my self urged me to. I thought I was just being melodramatic, but after gaining a call when I was nearly 70 miles away that day to return home, I knew immediately it was going to be the worst news that greeted my return.
People don’t have to believe what I felt, but I know what I felt, and those around me know too, because they were there every time I told them something bad was going to happen. I felt that it was going to be something horrendous, so bad, it would make me cry hysterically.
I felt guilt, if only I had said and done something as a reaction to this feeling. Maybe I could have intervened and changed what happened. I felt I had let them and myself down. I felt I was a terrible person; by ignoring my bad feeling, I had just let the person die.
Writing this now was something I thought I’d never do, as I even avoid talking about it, because as I have mentioned already it is painful and distressing. I don’t like how it makes me feel still, sick, all through my system. Yet, it is there and somewhere I feel I have to let it go.
I can cope with most things life throws at me, but this is one thing I still cannot cope with and feel it still. This has created a great concern in me; that those I love will end up the same, and I won’t be there to see them, to comfort them to tell them I love them. That they will leave me the same way, without goodbye. I am frightened of that, not of my own death, but anyone else’s. Even admitting that scares me, it’s like tempting fate by exposing that weakness publicly, that something terrible will happen.
I’d like to know if anyone else feels like I do. I’d like to know I’m normal, and that amongst all these faceless bloggers I am somehow not alone in these emotions. Maybe this is my post where I truly write for personal therapy. I don’t want sympathy or to pull the ‘hard luck’ story, I don’t feel hard done by. I just suppose I want to gain an understanding of why I feel this way still, to gain comfort from knowing of others who have felt or do feel like me. Maybe I just needed to admit what damage grief has done, even after the years have ticked by the pain still can endure, and affect us who are left behind who just don’t understand why.
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© Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Bex Houghagen and The Savvy Senorita with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.