In contrast to last week’s entry, today I want to explore a little of what loss means. I feel rather compelled to write about loss as a family friend – a good friend of my mother’s – passed away yesterday.
It’s a strange thing when someone passes away. Although I wasn’t close in the way my mum was, or obviously in the way his lovely wife was, I am still aware somehow of his not being here. When I think of what she must feel after so many years of being together, that also brings up in me many feelings. I imagine what it might be like if I was to lose my husband, and that’s after 20 years together. Aside from the most awful sinking feeling, my imagination can only just allow itself a small insight into that place, and it’s not a nice place to be. It feels lonely, empty and without purpose somehow. Of course I don’t allow myself to dwell there for very long at all as quite frankly, it is not something I want to even contemplate. But when death touches our life in some way, I feel it can’t help but crystallize the detail around the life we have. Yes, it can remind us of our own mortality, and how easily the living breathing body we can so easily take for granted can be here and then gone. Taken positively, it serves to remind us how precious each moment we have here is. It can remind us to acknowledge and be grateful for those people we have around us.
"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." - Mahatma Gandhi
There are many people I know who would be far more qualified to share what such personal loss can mean. I have been fortunate enough not to have experienced losing someone close to me. But I do appreciate that each person will have their own journey, their own process to go through to deal with that loss, and grief in their own way. For my part, I find great comfort and inspiration in words and so I want to leave this entry on a couple of quotes, which I hope can bring some comfort to any of you reading who experienced loss in this way. Like love, loss is a big subject, and I'm sure I'll be reprising this discussion again in the future...
"Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are happy." - Eskimo Proverb
Do not stand at my grave and weep
by Mary Elizabeth Frye
Do not stand at my grave and weep, I am not there,
I do not sleep. I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in the morning hush, I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
(Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!)