Over the last week, I have watched five of my dear friends lose either a parent or grandparent. It’s hard to hear such news, and it’s even harder to see it in such mass. The idea of transition as we begin a new school year and approach the end of summer always brings about all kinds of change and feelings of uncertainty for what is to come. But this year, the idea of transition has meant major life changes and adjustments for several people whom I hold dear. I thought it strange at first when the news kept rolling in one after the other of these deaths, but I began to understand that life works in mysterious cycles and it is not for me to question these things.
With endings come new beginnings and with new beginnings come possibilities for renewal and new found confidence and certainty that when we can stand strong during times of great change and struggle, we can find ourselves even more powerful and capable than before. As I move through funerals and shivas and showing my support and love to those who need it, I feel grateful. I feel grateful to have so many blessings in my life and I feel grateful to be able to have the strength to show my love to these people who need it right now.
When I was 18, three of my friends mothers and three of my dear friends passed away within months of each other. Six people. It seemed like a thousand. It wasn’t my first experience with loss, but when the waves of sad news kept coming it seemed to be too much to bare these sorrow feelings for all of these people and families. I remember attending funerals and shedding tears with the ones left to pick up the pieces. At that age, it’s hard to process the world changing so much and so rapidly. But now, even though the sadness still lingers after a loss, I know from experience that life will go on and change and flow for those left behind. We accept the love offered to us and feel the emotions as it happens around us. We learn about love and we reminisce.
After a loss, families and friends gather, eat, talk, love, cry, hug…. This goes on for days and the support is necessary and beautiful. And as the wave of sadness subsides, the masses scatter and the loss changes, transitions and settles. Life shifts and people go on. I don’t think we ever accept the mortality of our loved ones, but we naturally gather the feelings, make them a part of who we are and the loss becomes part of our identity.
I hope for you that grief is an emotion that leaves you stiff and sore the next day because that would mean it is not exercised very often. Feeling true sadness reminds us just how human we have become. Moving forward when that soreness fades doesn’t mean we let go of the grief, it means we have become stronger and can more easily carry it with us along our way.
photo courtesy of morguefile.com