A few days ago I had lunch with a precious young friend, L. Precious L has suffered a tragic loss almost two years ago. She has so much to teach me about loss and grief, or I should say I have so much to learn from her.
Our lunch lasted about 2 ½ hours – that would be ½ hour of lunch and 2 hours of crying, laughing and remembering. Precious L is still hurting and has been so kind to share with me what her deepest feelings are – how sometimes she just doesn’t want to be here, how she’ll never “get over” her loss, how other people view her.
Our circumstances are not the same. I’m many years older than Precious L. We are at different places in our lives. The situations that have caused our grief are not the same. But I’m learning for both of us our grief is great. It is very painful. It is life-changing. It doesn’t matter if your loss is from a spouse, parent, child or friend, your loss is your loss. And I’ve come to the conclusion that the greatest loss, the one that hurts the most, is whichever one you’re going through. Because it is your own personal pain.
It makes me aware that there are people all around me dealing with their own pain and grief from loss. I guess I’m just more keenly aware of it now. I think that I’ve not really appreciated what my own mother-in-law’s life has been like. She’s been a widow for 33 years now.
Maybe the sadder thing would be for someone to be gone and not have someone that loved them so much and mourned for them. The saddest thing of all would be for someone to be gone and not to be in the arms of Jesus, not to know beforehand where they would be going, not to have the assurance in this life that they would spend eternity in heaven. I’m thankful for that – I’m thankful that I know where Michael is, that I have no doubt he is in heaven. I’m as confident of his salvation as I am of my own.
As lunch progressed Precious L and I found many things we agreed on and our corporate response quickly became “That sucks”, followed by the clinking of our glasses in a toast. People that tell you you’ll get over it (and lots of other stupid things, which I think will be the subject for a future post). Clink! Seeing other people celebrating anniversaries and birthdays together that you know you’ll never get to celebrate. Clink! Going to places you used to go with the one you’ve lost or knowing that you can never go to those places again. Clink! Having to deal with the personal clothes of the one who’s gone. Clink! There was a lot of toasting going on at that table. Which was fine because we were drinking water and tea. But next time Precious L wants to do margaritas, so I think I’m gonna need to call a cab.
Also, Precious L is the consummate animal lover. So she’s had this incredible idea that I need a dog to keep me company. She’s even been looking at different dogs to gift me and is talking about just leaving one on my front door step. For anybody that knows me, you know this is NOT a good solution for me. For the sake of the dog, this is not a good idea!
Thank you Precious L for what you are teaching me. That grief is universal, yet very individual. That grief cannot be defined by a timeline. That grief shows up in many ways. And that most of us don’t understand until we’ve had to walk through it. And Precious L — I look forward to the next meeting with margaritas and queso, BUT NO DOG!