Written by: Chereen
Recently, loss has been my teacher. As a therapist, I have always been fascinated by moods and emotions. I find it incredibly interesting how bereavement can be so controlling, and it can take its sweet time. Sometimes, bereavement lasts a lifetime. Grief is not easy because it is irreplaceable. Losing someone permanently leaves you with this emptiness that cannot be filled. If you are able, you learn to tend to the emptiness by planting flowers around it and gardening the field with positive memories. Still, weeds will form every now and then. Those, too, need to be taken care of.
I was visiting the ICU recently when a young girl was wheeled in on her bed. As she moaned frequently, you could tell that she was very sick and fragile. Her mother would take breaks to cry alone. Although her daughter was unaware, she refused to cry in front of her. It was obvious that she did not want to show her daughter any weakness. The days passed, and the girl’s health began to decline. One day, her heart beats began to slow down. Her breathing slowed down. Her saturation levels continued to fall. There was nothing more the doctors could do. As I walked back into the ICU, I saw family members with grief-stricken faces. There was looks of worry, concern, confusion, and sadness. Instantly, I knew she was in her final moments. I stood there and I watched. I could have turned away, but my heart would not allow me to do so. So instead, I offered hugs and condolences to the family members.
Her parents sat next to her bed, each holding one of her hands, telling her how much they loved her. Her aunt stood in the background, ready to console her sister once the most difficult moment in her life took place. And then, it happened. She took her final breath, and the monitor started to beep uncontrollably. As difficult as it was, it was peaceful. Her departure was simple and silent. However, what came from it was anything but simple. The hallway that was once shaking with fear and sad emotions, became a hallway of tears and excruciating pain. What was to come was going to get even more difficult before it became easy. Her parents would go through a roller coaster of emotions before they eventually settled into an emotion of acceptance.
From my own experiences with loss, I have learned that the hardest part of loss is not the actual loss itself. Rather, it’s the aftermath. It is going from having someone there, to being forced to deal with an irreplaceable emptiness. It is also the lack of direction and stability. There are no set rules when it comes to healing from a loss, so it becomes easy to question your emotions and how stable you are. The shock that comes from loss also leaves a feeling of shakiness once it temporarily subsides, because it is a firm reminder that your heart is incomplete.
The feeling of acceptance is difficult at first. It starts out as a foreign concept that your heart does not comprehend because it has become accustomed to grieving. Some days are full of acceptance, while other days are filled with declines and backwards walks on the acceptance journey. Eventually, an equilibrium is reached. The biggest lesson I have learned is that comprehending and swallowing a loss cannot be rushed. Acceptance cannot be speeded.
In order for bereavement to lose its control, it is important to face the good, the bad, and the ugly that it brings in its basket. Surely, it will not be easy. However, the best lesson that I have learned is that grief is a gift given to those who have departed. It is excruciatingly difficult because it is untapped emotions. Grief is the heart expressing itself strongly through depth and love that is often stored away. The hardest loss comes with the most valuable lesson. If you are patient and accepting, it also comes with beautiful, powerful, and life changing results.