It never gets easier. As a common thread throughout our lives, loss reveals itself in multiple forms:
- Loss of a job
- Loss of a relationship or marriage
- Loss of a meaningful friendship
- Loss of an important valuable
- Loss of direction, motivation or drive
- Loss of self-worth and esteem
- Loss of faith
- And the pressing weight of losing someone you love
A large percentage of our populous experiences nearly all forms of the aforementioned list by midlife, and unfortunately, many people never seek the necessary help to truly heal.
I would say my first memorable funeral experience at age 7 was significantly tragic, but I imagine everyone remembers the moment they discovered the concept of death. It is a sobering and intense aspect of living, and attempting to find peace is the challenge we face our entire lives, and sadly, some people never find it. After witnessing loss firsthand, it is possible to even visualize the sequence of events in your mind on replay for years, or let it fester within your soul like a virus, especially hovering around the yearly anniversary of loss. Night terrors, lack of sleep, discomfort with normal routines are all results of grieving, and most devastatingly, the hobbies and passions once revered may become uncomfortable.
The reality is that we long to understand loss, when at times there is no explanation, and making an attempt to do so without a foundation of faith can consume us. A primary theme in my novel is how an individual can actually give grieving the power to alter psyche, ultimately allowing the induced stress to create physical repercussions. Cortisol is a powerful chemical your brain releases under stress, and it can produce permanent damage, which is why stress management techniques is addressed in our school’s health curricula and routinely explored by many insurance agencies to educate the consumer. Therapeutic techniques, however, may never take the place of simply talking to someone. Seeking counsel or therapy is a gamble; finding the right person you trust to be honest can be a difficult and expensive journey. The pain is guaranteed to drag out for years, however, if one remains in denial. Before accepting the finality of loss, we experience stages of depression, anger, and may spend time bargaining for different outcomes in our minds.
Death is final. The physical body will never return, but the canvas upon which we paint our lives can last forever. Because of my own struggles with grieving, I’ve latched onto a song since undergrad which inspired me to remember how urgent and precious time is on Earth.
So this is who I am, and this is all I know, and I must chose to live for all that I can give, the spark that makes the power grow.
And I will stand for my dream if I can, symbol of my faith in who I am, but you are my only… and I must follow on the road that lies ahead, and I won’t let my heart control my head, and I know what I’ve got to be…Immortality, I make my journey through eternity, I keep the memory of you and me inside.
Fulfill your destiny, is there within the child, my storm will never end, my fate is on the wind, the king of hearts, the joker's wild, but we don't say goodbye. I'll make them all remember me, ‘cause I have found a dream that must come true, every ounce of me must see it through, but you are my only.
I'm sorry I don't have a role for love to play, hand over my heart I'll find my way, I will make them give to me… Immortality, there is a vision and a fire in me, I keep the memory of you and me inside… And we don't say goodbye, we don't say goodbye, with all my love for you and what else we may do, we don't say goodbye. –Recorded by Celine Dion & The Bee Gees (1998)
Time is short, my friends, but remember: As long as there is life, there is hope. As long as there is hope, there is life. Leave the world better than you found it and inspire as you have been inspired. What’s your legacy?
Pictured above: Grandparents Sarah Mae Zimmerman & Harold K. Zimmerman (c. 2002)