Recently, I was talking to a close girlfriend about loss caused by divorce, job, relationships, death and social isolation. It made me think about what we are truly grieving. No matter what causes the loss, the end result is grief, grief that is real and hurts like no other pain you have known.
When you experience loss, it is not only the loss of what was, what you lived for in the moment but also for the future. It is for the loss of what will never be. Financial independence is no longer guaranteed. Your purpose in life no longer exists. Fear replaces safety and security. Freedom is replaced with rules and regulations. Culture rituals which have existed for hundreds, even thousands of years are uprooted and forced to change.
When something or someone literally is lost, taken away or dies, a big gaping hole opens in your hearts. The types of loss include job, community, dreams, routines and life. Sometimes the pain is so dreadful that you are at a loss of words, think that your heart will never heal and that there is no future.
I personally found that bringing back memories of what I accomplished, enjoyed and loved about my job, my relationships and my son helps me to manage my loss from the perspective of the past. It is comforting to remember when, when the times were better, when we were together. However, there is something finite about the past. New memories cannot be created. They are complete. In order to keep my sanity, I decide to treasure the past, recall the memories and chose to use them to propel me forward.
The present is the moment in which we live in. It is fleeting and becomes the past in a blink of an eye. In loss, it is our desire to have what we do not have. We want to spend time doing what we used to do but be able to do it now. We want to spend time in our routines as if nothing has changed. We want to spend time with our loved ones who are no longer with us. However, it is about being in the present moment. Sometimes this difficult to do. Focusing on your surroundings, not wishing to be someplace else and finding joy of them moment can change your viewpoint. Stay present. Feel your heartbeat. Hear the voice of the person you are with. Notice the surface you stand or sit on. Listen for the wind in the trees. Those are all in the moment. You cannot hear them from the past. You cannot hear them from the future. You can see, hear and feel them now.
The loss of something that will never happen is frightening for a grieving person. It is impossible to think of the next day, month, year or the rest of their life without their loved one. The fear that the future will be as painful as the present moment makes it impossible to look beyond the present pain and grief.
I find that I struggle the most with the loss of my future and the loss of the future of my loved one. Many of the future events are the same but come from my perspective plus what I believe Connor would be thinking, how he would respond and what he would do.
The lost future is missed goals, cancelled vacations, birthdays not celebrated, and weddings never planned. We all have dreams and when the possibility of achieving them is taken away, it is even harder to accept the loss. I believe it is that thought that we never miss something until it is gone. I miss having more holidays with my son. I miss celebrating his birthday. I miss the grandchildren I will never have.
I miss the future. But when I say it out loud, that seems strange. I ask myself; how can I miss something I never had? I also ask, can I be open to moving forward? Or am I going to let this loss keep me stuck and control my life?
To me, the choice is obvious. I did not want to stay stuck. I wanted to create new dreams with those around me.