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.


  1. Sorry about your friend's loss, Syd.

    Love to you,


  2. Sometimes the only way we are able to help a friend going through the pain of a family member having been murdered, is to allow them to speak about it as often as they need - to give them a safe place to pour out their grief and rage, where they know they will not be shut down because the other person is uncomfortable.
    I'm so sorry for your friend, and for you, Syd; this is a terrible cruelty.

  3. Death comes in so many forms, Syd. I have seen many of them over my lifetime and tonight I am visiting with the wife of a dear friend who died two weeks ago. He had almost 40 years in AA and, although in pain, he managed to die with so much dignity and even humor. It is just one other reason that I am grateful for AA.
    By comparison the death of your friend's sister is outrageous. It doesn't seem fair.

  4. When my ex passed away suddenly, I, too, searched, read, and listened to anything that I could. I ran across the following line that really helped me validate the loss and acknowledge that healing will come with time. It helped me to understand that this loss changed my sons, challenged them to grow in ways that they did not expect. My prayers are with you all.

    "You will get through this but you will never get over this."

  5. God be with those who still suffer from the effects of the disease of addiction, be with those who are mourning the loss of loved ones and allow me to continue to be the hands and feet stretched out to help as I can.

    Syd, I know what you mean by this loss, it is tragic and awful, it's difficult to understand or comprehend any reasoning, we can only continue to live life knowing that the controls are in the hands of an all powerful, loving creator who knows infinitely more than we do.

  6. I've had similar circumstances and similar reflections.

    As trite and cold as it sounds, the healing of time takes all of the time that it takes and nothing I've found can cheat that...

    Blessings to you and yours...

  7. Your list of some of the things you found helpful in working through loss is a good one. I used many of the same suggestions when I lost my mother and several years later, my dad.

    The tears would come on suddenly sometimes - almost 'out of the blue' and I allowed them.

    I spoke frequently with trusted friends and family about my remembrances, thoughts, and feelings.

    Thanks for a great post,

  8. what a horrible way to lose someone.

  9. I see so much of death/disease/'degradation' on a daily basis through my job that I hardly think about it anymore, it's hard to keep in sync with those who view it with surprise. I also am much enamoured of the viewpoint that we just change forms/return to the source/pass into the next form much like a baby passes from the womb into a condition that it has never seen before.

  10. I can't even imagine. So glad these parents have a friend like you.

  11. That circle of life stuff can be really challenging. We are not taught how to deal with death in a healthy manner, instead we learn to be in fear of it.

    My experience has been that during times of pain I feel closer to my Higher Power. "Pain was the touchstone of all spiritual progress", as stated in the 12&12 has been a comfort for me. It was in those times I really had to pay attention.

    I am sorry for the loss of your friend.

  12. Syd, I'm so sorry for your friends loss and in a way, your loss too. I'll keep you all in my prayers.

  13. Such a terrible loss, the pain of grief is so hard to deal with.

    A friend of mine his son died last year in a car accident. I don't know how he dealt with that..but time has helped.

  14. Syd, after your words: Peace, Grieving, Desire to Survive, Balance, Meaning in Life...there is nothing I can add. You even mentioned "Fear not", the words of angels.

  15. What a tragedy for your friend.

    I have to admit, I tried about a dozen times to read the rest of your post, and I had to stop. I'm going to star it so I can read it at a later date. Like most people, I'm not good with death, and I simply couldn't get through your heartfelt writings without feeling too uncomfortable.

    My best friend died of a brain tumor when I was six years old, which I'm not sure traumatized me, but it was confusing and frightening. I've known other people who have died, but the only other close relationship was my maternal grandfather when I was 19, and I am still not good with it. He was a real loving force in my life, and it was difficult for me when he was gone, and I think I was angry at him because his death was from complications of smoking. In the end, though, his addiction helped me take care of mine before I got too sick. I heard his voice telling me how much he regretted what he did to those he loved when he reached the point in his illness that he could no longer save or improve himself by quitting and that his death was imminent.

  16. death is never 'comfortable'. and anothers death always brings one's own mortality to the fore. and that is scary. the way you dealt with your grief is certainly the right way to go about it.

  17. I am (somehow) able to accept death for what it is, in all its forms.
    I just appreciate the times I have had to spend time with people.

  18. Thank you for sharing this.jeNN

  19. Very well put indeed...I know that from my own death experiences, that of sudden and that from sickness, that death will always be something that we struggle with as humans, but it really doesn't have to be...the puzzle for me is just knowing it is there and acceptance that no matter what we all die...hopefully in between we make something well of ourselves.


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