When someone we love dies, the grief and pain fills our eyes, our ears, our nostrils. Everything takes on a surreal quality, becoming at the same time duller in tone and sharper in relief. We feel that which we have never felt before. Even if others we love have preceded this person in death. Each death is unique; affects us with a unique sense of loss.
In the beginning, everyone around us either grieves with us or is gentle with us in our grief. Then they move back, into the middle distance, watching to see what we do next. Are we 'strong' enough to buck up and go on? Or are we of the weaker variety who continues to mourn? What is truer still is that they do not know how to deal with grief, ours which is immediate or theirs which is past or impending. Because loss, like change, is inevitable.
The hardest part of the grief process is that it never really ends. It softens. It changes. It grows easier. It doesn't go away. We move on in spite of it and become stronger because of it.
Little things will, at some future time, remind us of the one we've lost. A flower. A particular sunset. A song. A random comment. We pick up the phone to call, only to remember that the one we want to connect with will not be there to answer. We turn the wheel of our car into a familiar street, slow to stop at a house, start to get out, only to be hit with a different face opening the door of the house and exiting without even noticing you sitting there, mouth agape. Again.
Those are the moments our humanity shows through. Our capacity to feel deeply, to weep openly and fully, to return to normal again. Only to get swept out into the sea of grief at another random moment.
When this happens, reach out. Find another person who can listen to you, raise a glass in salute to your lost loved one, quietly hold you, whatever it is in that moment that you need. Because through that too shine the moments of our humanity, our incredible opportunity to continue to live to the fullest a life that has suffered loss and learned to heal.