Total Pageviews

Friday, May 15, 2015

At a Loss

I have been calling my sister-in-law every evening.  And last night the phone call was so heart wrenching, that I had difficulty sleeping.  I want so much to be comforting, but unfortunately do not know what to say, or do to be a comfort.  And is there any comfort?  I suppose not.  And it is so strange to be in the position that so many of my friends and family have been in for the past 6 years.  I am definitely at a loss.

So I have been thinking about what it means to be sympathetic, empathetic, and how best to comfort.  It is not about giving advice-there really is no advice that you can give a mother who loses a child (or a wife who loses a husband).  And as I often remark-it is not a one size fits all world-so what comforted me-may not comfort her.  But it also isn't something that you can ask about to the person you are trying to comfort.  If you were to ask me - what comforted me when my husband died, or now that I am struggling with the death of my mom, or the death of my niece, I am not sure that I would know.  It certainly will be something I think about.

Can we give lessons in empathy?  Is there a rule book on what to say and how to say it?  I know that my presence is helpful-just be there.  But at what point is more required?

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Managing the Losses

Last week my family suffered another huge loss.  My 30 year old niece was found dead.  It seemed that she did not show up for work and then when the police came to her apartment-they discovered her body in her bed.  They think that she went to bed and then did not wake up-and the cause of death has yet to be determined.

How do we cope with this?  My sister-in-law has been through so much loss-her father when she was 10, her mother at 24, her husband at 30, her brother at 60.  Now the loss of her daughter - and the funeral was on Mother's day.  My niece was an only child-so cherished by her mom, that they were best friends.

In the past six years-I too have been through many losses.  Bruce's death was sudden, then the death of my best friend's husband, most recently my mom, and now my niece.  And I wonder how we deal with this much.  True, I believe that we can be resilient.  But it is not a given that we will experience these losses and continue on with our life.  There are those who do not cope, who cannot move on.
I have been told to focus on what I have-and our growing family.  But it seems to me that it is not that simple.  Almost like the theory that bringing home a new dress will replace a favorite that you now must discard.  And that analogy is ludicrous - but that is all we have.

In a few weeks, I will welcome a new grandchild and I am so grateful for the family that surrounds me.  But the weight of the loss stays with me.  How do we continue to put one foot in front of the other, to welcome the additions as we mourn the losses?