I was asked a quite serious question by a good friend this past week who, I quickly noticed, was choosing his words very, very carefully.
Amazingly, to me anyway – based partly on my way of thinking, and mainly on my own personal experiences throughout my life – my friend is facing personal loss for the very first time in the form of the impending death of a parent.
And a parent, my friend has allowed me to add, with whom he was quite close to, especially during the adulthood stages of his life.
He was choosing his words carefully because he was fully aware that life had been dealing me a few tough cards to play during the past few years and he didn’t want to say anything that made him appear to be insensitive to my personal situation.
Once we managed to work past a somewhat oddly persistent discomfort surrounding the subject of our conversation, I became aware, for the first time, that he had made the same mistake as I had by quietly assuming the death of a parent – especially one you’ve grown extremely tight with and have grown comfortable with the notion they’re always going to be there – somehow grows increasingly easier the older you get.
In other words, it’s easier to deal with the death of your mom when you’re 60, then when you’re 25 or younger.
As I found out, nothing could be further from the truth, and it has little, if anything, to do with the level of maturity one has reached during their journey.
The longer you’ve grown accustomed to being able to pick-up the phone, dial a number, and that familiar, comforting voice is always there to answer, the harder it almost always becomes to accept the fact you’re never going to hear that voice again.
The emotional weight that carries and the impact it ultimately has on a person’s ability to cope with, adapt to, and ultimately live normally with can depend on a multitude of variables, including one’s family situation, the number of siblings one has, or if they are an only child.
Believe me when I write the world can become a seemingly cold, empty and uncaring place in a hurry when one finds themself grieving and alone.
Fuelled by the ache and anguish of a broken heart, and sometimes left to its own interpretation, the mind can quickly distort the normal progressions of life and make the acceptance of one’s own mortality seem a hopeless and almost impossible task to deal with.
Yet it is but a horribly distorted depiction of one’s reality and, although often struggled with by a good many among us, it is meant to be recognized, understood for what it is, and ultimately cast aside.
There are no magic bullets for those grieving deeply or on the brink of a life’s occurrence they dread with every fibre of their being, but there are always thoughts that can steel them against their uncertainty.
For me it was the notion, “What would your mom want you to do.”
Happily, my friend has found his way to deal with his current situation.
The pain of extreme loss is all too real for a number of people among us and sometimes they are the ones who smile the most on the outside.
But the means of coping are out there, and anyone struggling to do so owes it to themself to find the one that works for them.
Just food for thought.