The loss of a loved one is, I think, the most devastating thing that we as humans will experience. There is really nothing like it, nothing it can be compared to, nothing that hurts as badly.
Loss takes us to a place where we join others who have experienced the same thing. We somehow form a bond with people we will never know, never meet. We become separated from those who have not yet experienced loss, even though we know they will.
Loss becomes even more intense if you actually watch a loved one take their last breath. It is an overpowering, overwhelming sense of loss that is so personal that nothing will ever remove that moment from your mind. You watched that person be no more. It is forever.
Loss takes a piece of you away. It feels like something is missing, not just the person, but a part of yourself. And no matter where you are in your own life, your world after loss is inexorably changed. You can, after an initial period of grief, try to go back to life as it was, but no, this doesn’t happen. It never will. It is a new world and a strange one at that.
Nothing seems to make sense anymore. You are not the same person anymore. Where you were strong, now you are weak. Where you used to laugh, now you cry. Where you enjoyed life, now you are sad. You are lost.
People reach out when they see your loss. They want to help, but they soon realize they are unable to. And then you start to feel as if you are invisible. That’s because after a while, people start to be uncomfortable around you. You remind them of death, of loss, of grief. And regardless of whether they’ve experienced it first-hand or not, they want no part of it. They want to live in denial. I get that. It’s human nature, I guess, to not want to think about the bad things, to want to live in a place where loss doesn’t exist. Who wouldn’t?
And so in addition to feeling like a piece of you is gone, you begin to feel a loneliness that cannot be taken away by the people in your life. They don’t understand that your loss has made you feel different, alienated, empty. They don’t understand when you don’t want to participate in things, and they judge you for it.
Loss is raw. It eats at you from the inside out. It is a rawness that leaves you defenseless against just about anything. You have nothing with which to fight, to stake out a place for yourself in this new world. You may think you’re okay until something happens that touches that raw part of you and the loss is right there, just as unbelievably horrifying as it was the first time.
We’re not stupid, none of us. There are births, and we rejoice. There are deaths, and we mourn. Yet we choose to consciously and subconsciously deny death until it is right in front of us and we have no choice but to deal with it. I sometimes wonder now, because I made that choice too, if shielding yourself makes a difference when the loss occurs. I don’t think it does, so if you’ve not experienced loss yet, stave it off, by all means, as long as you like. And if you have experienced it, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
This is loss.