“As long as we can love each other, and remember the feeling of love we had, we can die without ever really going away. All the love you created is still there. All the memories are still there. You live on—in the hearts of everyone you have touched and nurtured while you were here.”
Mitch Albom, Tuesdays with Morrie (quote is from Morrie Schwartz)
Thankfully, with buckets of gratitude, I know little of true loss. I have lost all of my grandparents; several cats that meant the world to me; and a number of friendships and relationships. I have grieved the loss of all those relationships, to varying degrees. I wonder if the deeper the loss means the greater the grief. And if that has anything to do with how long it takes a person to get over it. And, do we ever really ‘get over’ grief? Or do we move, or rather, grow beyond it?
My maternal grandfather died while I was still in school so I don’t have a lot of memories of him and don’t really think about him that much. I don’t remember grieving that deeply for him. My paternal grandmother favored her son over her grandchildren and my sister over me (at least, that’s the way it felt), so no love loss there, no grief that I can even remember.
My paternal grandfather lived close to us in his final years so I got to know him better and truly grieved his loss for several years. I don’t think about him that much anymore. Does that mean I’ve ‘gotten over it?’ Have I healed from his loss?
My maternal grandmother was a much deeper loss. She died maybe 10 years ago (?) and in some ways I still miss her. I think and talk about her often. When I look at her photograph or one of the mementos I have that belonged to her my heart hurts a little bit. Does that mean I haven’t ‘gotten over’ her loss and I am still grieving?
Whenever I have lost a beloved cat the grief was intense and the most recent, Agnes, left me about 6 years ago but my grief for her absence remains strong. Am I still going through the grieving process for her? Does grief ever truly go away?
Maybe not completely, as long as I still remember my loved one. As I write this I have to wonder how deeply I will grieve for my father since we haven’t spoke in over 22 years and he was such a monster to me growing up. I think about him occasionally – mostly in terms of how I will react to his death. And if I am honest with myself, I am looking forward to his passing from this world to his eternity. What happens to him is of course left to God, but I can’t help but wonder about how I truly and deeply feel about him.
I won’t allow myself think about how I will react when my mother leaves me for her eternity. I figure I will be devastated and collapse under the weight of grief so I won’t even go there now.
In the meantime, these are questions with no answers…and what would life be with out answerless questions? I have learned to leave such questions with the One who will never leave me, the One who holds me and brings me through grief and pain; and the One to whom I turn to when life crashes down around me. He is my Solace and my Peace, my Rock and my Salvation.