When someone we love dies time stops. It does not take long for us to realize that it is for us only that time has stopped. We stand caught in a time warp while the rest of the world moves on.

Gradually, we become aware of this fact and sometimes have shocking reminders of it, lightning bolts to our version of reality. Some days we may want to scream at the world and the people in it: “How dare you go on? Can’t you see I am holding on by a thread? How dare you complain about such ridiculous meaningless stuff? Do you have any idea of what has happened to me? Don’t you realize? Don’t you care? How dare you laugh and carry on as though nothing has happened? My loved one has died. Nothing is funny anymore. I don’t think I will ever laugh again.”

When someone we love dies there is no going back. As hard as others try to push and pull us forward, tomorrow is somewhere we don’t want to go because we know that every step in that direction is a step away from our past and the life we lived before the people we love died.

We may rant and rave at God, the heavens, fate, doctors, ourselves, our loved ones, and whoever else we believe brought us to this moment in time, but when we stop yelling, nothing has changed and we are left with the terrible emptiness that surrounds the fact that our loved one has died.

Time creeps forward. At times so imperceptible we barely notice, until one of those assaults on our reality. Snow falls and begins to pile up in our driveway and we either shovel or remain a captive in our home. Someone sends us a birthday card and we realize we are a year older. Our grandchild starts to crawl and we wonder what happened to the time when they never left our lap. We pull something unrecognizable out of our refrigerator and realize it has been there for months.

Reality begins to overcome our denial. We can no more stop its progression than we could stop our loved one from dying; the hard cold reality is something we must face.

Facing it, as frightening as that may be, is our ticket to freedom. Gradually, we realize that facing the loss sets us free not from our loved one but from the pain and sadness of their death. It sets us free to remember them, their life, our life with them, and the love that we shared that still remains. We heal by talking about them, talking to them, allowing ourselves to feel their presence in ways that are meaningful for us. They are part of our present when we allow ourselves to feel the love we still have for them, when we realize that love is stronger than death, and though death changes relationships it does not end them, that they continue in some form even if we refuse to acknowledge that.

Once we have shared a deep connection with someone, that connection cannot be undone. Sometimes when someone has hurt us, we may sever our contact with them but out head and our heart cannot erase their memory and the connection is still there. Death is no different.

Deb Kosmer


© Deb Kosmer 2012

Deb Kosmer

Deb has worked at Affinity Visiting Nurses Hospice for ten years, the first two as a hospice social worker and the last eight as Bereavement Support Coordinator supporting families before and after the death of their loved ones. She provides supportive counseling, developed and facilitates a variety of grief support groups, including a well-attended group for men only as well as other educational events. Deb received her Bachelor’s degree in Social Work from UW-Oshkosh and her Master’s degree in Social Work from UW Milwaukee. She received her certification in Thanatology through ADEC. Her writing has appeared in New Leaf Magazine, We Need Not Walk Alone, Living with Loss, Grief Digest, numerous hospice publications and EAP publications. Some of her poetry on death and dying will be included in a college textbook for social workers in end of life soon. New Leaf has also used some of her poetry for a line of sympathy and anniversary of death cards. On a personal level, Deb's 14-year-old son died after being struck by a car. Her 31-year-old sister had died in a car accident eight months earlier, and her 56-year-old father died from a heart attack exactly three years before. These three unexpected deaths within three years started Deb on a journey she never wanted to be on and she learned first-hand the importance of having the help and support of others. In the years since, she has experienced other losses, the most recent being the unexpected death of her 44-year-old step-daughter who died from complications three months after routine surgery. Deb's passions are writing, reading, education, nature, and family. She is currently working on a book of her grief poetry. She recently moved with her husband to Waypost Camp, Hatley WI. Her husband accepted a job there as Property Manager and his position allows them to live on-site with acres of woods and a lake. She anticipates the quiet beauty to be a strong catalyst for writing.

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