A written conversation I participated in recently has created an area of ‘thought’ for me. I find that when I ponder things many times I gain insight into my understanding of the topic and myself.
The topic is Mourning. What makes a person an expert on mourning? Since each of us is a unique entity in the existence of mankind are our experiences concerning the loss of loved ones similar? Are there really experts on this topic, or are they merely better at understanding human nature and emotions? Those are questions that I have no answers for.
My mother completed her circle of life in 2001. I had not experienced the loss a someone whom I loved dearly prior to that. She had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and we were advised that her passing would most likely occur within the next three days. She stayed with us for another ten days. Those two weeks contained a surreal existence for me where time literally operated differently.
As a family, we gathered around Mom and supported her and each other in ways we didn’t know we were capable of. I felt things I had never felt before and I came to understand that my brain no longer functioned in ways I was accustomed to. I did not understand death, dying or the grieving process.
I sought out spiritual guidance but found it lacking. I found a book, Mourning & Mitzvah by Anne Brener, L.C.S.W, which seemed to help my mind function and gain understanding, but my connection with a dear life-long friend, Margaret Lambert, is where I found understanding and comfort.
Margaret listened. She let me talk, cry, and talk. Her words were gentle. She did not offer me any solution or answer to my questions. She simply shared her understanding of death and grief with me as she had already grieved the loss of several loved ones. I felt loved. I grieved and I healed, well the best one can heal. Life went on and I was an active participant in it, again.
Fast forward to 2013. My beloved dog, Charlie, was diagnosed with cancer and after a consult and testing at the U of M we were told that there wasn’t anything that could be done for him. I became his hospice nurse 24/7. Two and one-half months later he took his last breath in my arms. Again, I grieved. Even as I type this post my heart aches and the tears flow. Facing Death
So, what makes a person an expert on mourning and grieving? I don’t know, and I doubt many of us will ever find out. What I do know is that I was comforted by the simple things others did. The genuine smiles, the soft words, the act of actually listening to me talk about my loss, the gentle touch on my arm, the hugs. Through all that I felt loved.
As I continue my trek through life I try to be kind as kindness was a gift to me when I needed it most.