Monday, August 10, 2009
The terrible pain of death is sitting heavily on our friend right now. And it is made even more difficult by the circumstances of death. Her sister was shot, her car burned, and she was left in a pond. Her body was not recognizable.
The situation was on my mind this weekend. We walked, sailed, talked, met up with friends, and did all the things that we normally do. Yet, my wife and I still talked during the night about the horror of having death come at the hands of an unknown person.
I understand that we each are beginning to die from the moment that we are born. Death, it has been said, is the other side of birth. And in some circumstances, death may bring some peace to those left behind. I've only begun to see that in recent years.
I suppose that if one can get through tragic death, one can survive just about anything. But for now, all the feelings of despair, longing, anger, guilt, frustration, and questions are going around and around and all that is being sought is relief from the pain. I do think that eventually there will be healing and understanding. And yes, even acceptance can come. But it takes time.
Here are some things that I found helpful to me as I worked through the loss of my parents:
I cried. I did a lot of that, much of it in private. But it helped to just let go.
I talked to others about what I was feeling. My wife, my cousin, a friend all heard a lot from me as I grieved. I just needed to talk and have others listen.
I searched for answers. I read about sudden death (my father's cause of death) and speculated about what caused my mother's death. I finally decided that I could read and read about it but I was not going to find any answers. The "why" question became worn out. I had to let it go because I would never find the answer.
Now I can write and speak about my loss. I am not grieving anymore. I know that my parents will always be a part of me. The acute pain of loss has subsided, and now I have memories that comfort me.
For a long while after my dad died, I wished that I had taken him to the hospital when he complained about feeling nauseated. I wish that I had understood that the need to be with him on the evening before he died suddenly was a premonition of his death. Now I have come to understand that I wasn't responsible for his dying. He might have died in the hospital. It was going to happen at some point. And he died the way that he wished, in his sleep.
With all of this, I've become much more attuned to our life cycle. Maybe it's helped me to be less uncomfortable and more compassionate with others. Even in these tragic circumstances, I'm not flinching or fearing anything. I only hope that some peace will eventually come to those who are grieving. I hope that they will have a desire to survive and can regain their balance and meaning in living.