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 2012