Grief . . . An Extremely Personal Emotion

Two people I know have suffered the loss of loved ones just days apart.  This got me thinking about grief.  It has me thinking about just how personal grief is.

There are people who let grief consume them.  It becomes all-consuming.  It brings physical pain.  The person’s world becomes a dark, gloomy and lonely place.  Grief turns these people into bitter and angry people.

When some people lose a loved one, they tend to look for blame.  Such as, “it was the hospital’s fault” or “the doctor was a quack;” etc.  Personally, I know that is not true.  Yes, there are the incidents where the doctors or nursing staff cause the death.  However, that is not the norm.

If a loved one goes into the hospital for one issue, but the family knows the loved one has other issues (i.e. drug and alcohol, to name a few), do not immediately blame the hospital staff for the death.  Think about the years of abuse to the body heaped on by the loved one.  How long did he/she do drugs or drink excessively?  Does that not have a tremendous bearing on how well a body will be able to handle sickness?  Yes.  Yes it does.

Why blame an entire hospital – doctors, nurses, CNAs, everyone – for something that, in all likelihood, could not have been prevented.  Or at least, prevented by the hospital personnel.

I could  go on and on regarding that. I will not, though.

I lost someone last year.  It happened just nine days past her 50th birthday.  It was unexpected.  I was in shock.  I had known her since I was five and she was six.  It broke my heart but it did not cripple me.  Had we not had years of separation, it just might have brought me to my knees.  However, I had done my grieving a long, long, long time ago.

If you’ve ever seen the movie “Beaches,” it describes our relationship perfectly.  There is one line in the movie that stood out for years.  It was when CC Bloom was working in the bar and Hilary returns after not speaking to CC for a long time.  CC tells Hilary, “You took your friendship away without even discussing it with me!”  That is what happened between her and I.

I know now what happened and why.  I am heartbroken because just when things were starting to turn around again between us, the Lord decided he had other plans for her.  I have accepted it.  I do not like it, but I have accepted it.

It’s like when my father passed in 2011.  I could not and did not grieve for him.  I did that for the first several years after he had abandoned our family.  He was gone for 23 YEARS.  In my mind, he was dead which is why I had already grieved his loss.  When he did return, I had a hard time accepting the fact my mother welcomed back – and even remarried him.  So, 10 years after his return he passed away, I could only find a sliver of sadness.  It was more for my mother, my children and nieces and nephews than for the loss of my father.

There has only been one loss that has effected me to the point it physically hurt.  What is truly mind-boggling for me is the fact that there was never a major relationship connection between us.  It was strictly professional.  However, from the moment he walked into my office back in 1989, I knew there was something about him.  Not only did my jaw drop open, but my heart stopped.  Love at first sight?  For me, it was.  Did he ever know how I felt?  No, I do not believe he did.

At the time he entered my life, I was married.  Unhappily married.  In an abusive relationship, unhappily married.  Making plans on escaping the abusive relationship, getting a divorce and starting life anew because I was done being someone’s verbal-, mental-, emotional-, sexual-, financial-, and physical-punching bag.

Sorry . . . I digress.  The man who walked through the door that day made such a deep and magnificent impact on my life.  He was an officer.  I was enlisted.  There is no way a relationship would have developed as long as I was (1) still married and (2) enlisted.  I had started making plans to see if there was a possibility for a relationship to develop.  Unfortunately, God had other plans for him.

On 22 January 1991, his Harrier crashed during a “Training” exercise.  He passed on the 23rd.  I received a final letter from him on 24 January 1991.  On 27 January 1991, I learned of his death.  Part of me died that day.  His passing brought me such deep and inconsolable pain.

I could not stay in the dark and twisty place.  My children needed me.  They became my world.  When the day finally arrived to tell my husband (now ex-husband) I wanted a divorce, I let him know he was not, had never been, or ever would be, my soulmate.  My soulmate perished during a “Training” exercise.  Not even Mr PotatoHead knew of my feelings.

We are quickly approaching the 25th Anniversary of his passing.  I do not go to the deep, dark, twisty place I used to go at this time of year.  I have learned how to best cope with the loss.  It is not always easy.  I still have my moments.  I always will.

When it comes to losing a loved one, I know there is a reason.  I may not be privileged to know what specifically it is but I know God (Higher Power, Creator, Fate, or whatever belief system one has) does.  I will not and do not like losing loved ones.  However, I accept that with life comes death.  With death comes life.  There is not one without the other.

I have learned over the years that in order for me to move forward, I have to walk through and feel my grief.  Notice I did not say “heal”?  For me, there is no healing.  There is only moving forward after feeling the intense grief and sense of loss.  The pain of losing someone never truly goes away.  I/We just learn to live with it.  As time passes, the intensity lessens but does not disappear.  No.  It never disappears.  I/We need to find our inner-strength so we can grab our bootlaces, strap them up, and take baby steps forward.

One breath at a time eventually becomes one second at a time.  One second at a time eventually becomes one minute at a time.  One minute at a time eventually becomes one hour at a time.  One hour at a time eventually becomes one day at a time.



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