Loss is a horrible part of life. But, at some point, we will all experience some type of loss. Though we all experience loss, it is a very personal experience. Of all of the people I've seen deal with loss, I have never seen two people deal with it in the same way.
Some break down completely, letting their emotions flow until they've exhausted themselves. Some people remain quite stoic, burying themselves in "daily life" to deal with their feelings...and then there are those who choose to ignore the grief as if nothing has changed until they process the emotions. Not one of these processes is wrong; they're all simply different.
Often, we forget that there are many different types of loss. For example, the loss of a rewarding job can be as challenging as other types of loss. But, of course, the most brutal loss is the death of family, friends, or a beloved pet. Even a tiny bearded dragon can break a heart if one loves that little bearded dragon.
I become very frustrated when I hear someone say, "It was just an animal." For some of us, there is no such thing as "just an animal." Our animals are family, as much our children as human children, and when we lose them, we feel that pain just as deeply. People who have human children don't expect to bury their children, though many experience that anguish. Still, it's typically universally believed that the child will someday bury the parent, not the other way around. Unfortunately, that doesn't apply to our fur-babies; we understand from the start that an awful day will come when we say goodbye. We lost our seventeen-year-old cat in October, and we miss him horribly. I use this to exemplify how grief and pain are attached to love, not species.
I could go into the grief of losing a job that means the world to you, especially those in a profession that can profoundly affect humanity, especially children. When someone you love sees the end of that job, the suffering is intense, and the grief is real. But, once again, the pain results from the love he feels for the work he does and the children he heals.
My frustration rises exponentially when those I love suffer, and I have no way to ease that pain. So during those times, I offer the only thing available in my toolbox...love. I listen, I cry if they need me to cry, but for the most part, I'm there when they need me. It doesn't matter the time of day or reason they need me; I give the only thing available during those times...love.
Does it relieve their suffering? Not entirely, but I hope it helps them on the way to healing. When I see the first glimmer of healing, I feel the weight of their loss easing.
Some losses are unrecoverable, but we make space in our heart and soul for that pain. It becomes memories of the joy the person, pet, or job brought to us during that period of our lives. I've known folks lucky enough to see signs that their loved one is at peace when they've moved on. I've known folks who hear that a child they worked with ended up healing other troubled children rather than spending life in emotional pain and causing pain to others.
The loss hurts, but the reward is usually worth the loss. We often dwell on its sadness when we think of loss, as I've done in most of this blog. But, if we weren't lucky enough to experience love, we would never experience loss.
We are so lucky to have that love, even for a short period of our lives, that it makes the grief worth it. We grieve because we have loved, and I have always believed and will always believe that love will always win. Even during the pain of loss, the foundation emotion is love.
Yes, I'll take the pain of grief and loss because it's a part of having love in my life. But honor what you've lost by letting that hole in your heart heal with the joy of knowing you have loved and been loved.