By Dee Roberts, Director of Pet Loss Services, Kays-Ponger & Uselton Funeral Homes and Cremation Services
When we lose a loved one, time seems to stand still. We are faced with the past, the present and the future all at once. The past when everything was okay is too painful to contemplate. The present in which we are seized with grief dominates everything. It seems endless, all pervading and crushing. And as for the future, whatever it was to hold has been totally wiped out. It becomes a jumble of shattered dreams, utterly destroyed.
Time and time again I hear people say, “I’ll never get over this or I’ll never forget it, and nor should we, because we should cherish the memory of that person. But it is essential that we become comfortable with that, for we are not meant to go on locked in suffering, unable to move on.
I often get angry when at a funeral I hear someone offering the advice to one of my families, however well meant, that time heals all wounds. It is not the passage of time itself that brings resolution, but the way we work through the stages of grief.
First it is essential to realize just what grief is. Grief is love, and it is because we feel such pain, because the inner ache is so great that we know the depth of our love. Grief simply cannot and does not exist except where there has been love.
Grief is not a mountain to be climbed, with the strong reaching the summit before the weak. Grief is not an athletic event with stopwatches timing our progress. Grief is a walk through loss and pain. There is no competition and no time trials.
I believe it is essential that we make our lost loved ones part of our future lives. A way we can do this is to accept the fact that they have left us, but give them a continuing stake in how we live. In this way, they are not just part of the past in our memories or of the present, but will continue to live and to achieve through whatever we have taken from their lives and added to our own for the benefit of others.
But don’t be afraid to grieve, for grief is an expression of your love. Think about, talk about and treasure your memories of your loved one and be your own timekeeper. Heal in your own way and in your own time. The experience of grief is powerful. So, too, is your ability to help yourself to heal. In doing the work of grieving, you are moving toward a renewed sense of meaning and purpose in your life.
The beautiful serenity prayer says:
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
If these words have had any meaning at all, then let it be this;
In accepting the reality of loss, a change will occur in our values and priorities. Things that once seemed important may become unimportant, and things that were unimportant may take on a new significance. Your life will go back to normal, but it will be a “new normal” for all those involved.