Thank you to those of you who emailed me directly to respond to my blog on Sunday. It is reassuring that I am helping people who have experienced loss and the challenging, confusing and life altering feelings that accompany the letting go of what was…
Over the last few days, three different people have talked to me about loss involving a senseless act of violence. Taking someone’s life cannot be fully understood by those of us remaining here on earth. We ask ourselves, why would someone do such a horrendous thing? Our minds cannot process it and work through it to arrive at an understanding. We may think the perpetrator of a violent act was not in their right mind, extremely troubled, or did not have a stable upbringing, the list goes on and on. Whatever rationalization we attempt falls short. It still does not seem fair that the flame of someone’s life has been snuffed out as quickly as the flame from a candle. Another useless killing. Another family left to try to function in the aftermath.
Over 6,600 deaths from all causes occur daily in the U.S. The rate for homicides has dropped from a high of 9.8 percent per 100,000 in 1991 to 4.8 percent per year in 2010. These numbers are important. They show a significant drop in homicides and should help us feel a little safer. However, it would be impossible to expect the families of victims of these violent crimes to be encouraged by the numbers since they will no longer have their loved ones in their lives. Grief hurts. The longer it envelopes your life, the deeper the wound becomes. When I talk with someone who has lost a loved one 20 years ago and they still cannot muster up a genuine smile, their eyes showing a depth of hurt that is impossible to describe, my heat goes out to them. They seem to have stopped living and are merely existing. It is, as if, their life has become a sentence that they are simply living out.
On my blog last Sunday, I mentioned a man who lost his wife in a vehicular accident caused by a drunk driver. He has received signs that his wife is giving him to assure him she is still around him with loving concern. Again the statistics are improving but the pain continues. Traffic fatalities have decreased in the past five years. In 2010, the latest recorded statistic, 32,885 people lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents. Fewer is better but once again, doesn’t offer peace to those families who are facing each day without their loved one.
What can we do to help the thousands of walking wounded that have lost their loved ones through any type of loss? You can make a difference. Making a concerted effort to listen to them as they repeat and repeat what happened as they process the reality of their loss is so important. You don’t have to offer any sage advice but simply listen with love. Give them the gift of a empathic listener. Showing them you care by taking the initiative to connect with them and offering the little things that may cause them to think about healing their grief may be the life line they need. I know through experience that reading about others who have survived a loss can give hope for tomorrow. Usually these people do not even know what they need to achieve closure. Do the research to find specific support groups, or grief counselors by name and number so that they do not have to search for these on their own but can simply call a number if they so choose. Books or articles may tell a story that just resonates with them and offers the encouragement they need to take the small, arduous steps needed for recovery. When the student is ready the teacher comes along. Tomorrow the same ideas you may have mentioned previously just might be internalized and accepted by them if they are ready. Don’t give up just continue to support them as they struggle to stand and face tomorrow.
Each of us can do something to help. Eventually, we may be able to see them return from the grip of loss and move on with their lives. It won’t be easy and it won’t be fast. Their mind and heart must crawl through the muck of hurt, anger and denial to get to a point of acceptance. Be patient and be there with love for a human being who is raw with the loneliness and pain of loss.
As my son said in my book, Just Behind the Door, ” Mom, all is as it should be.” It has taken me years to truly ‘get this’ and to decide to live the rest of my life knowing the Universe did not make a mistake with his passing. My lesson has been to keep the wonderful memories alive that I have of him and move on with my life in peace, love and a knowing that I am helping others.
There is a poem in my book that has helped me and I offer a part of it to you.
When I am gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do,
You must not tie yourself to me with too many tears
But be thankful we had so many good years….
So grieve for me a while, if grieve you must
Then let the grief be comforted by trust…
I won’t be far away for life goes on.
And if you need me, call and I will come…
And if you listen with your heart, you will hear,
All my love around you soft and clear…
Please make a copy of this blog and pass it on to someone who might benefit from it. There are so many out there who need a hand extended to them in love.
Have a peaceful few days.