Have you noticed that the older you get, the more likely it is that someone you know just died?
Reading the obituaries has become a habit. I could just not pick up the paper but I like local news and I like reading a real paper. Facebook is not that different. It just feels weird to see the loss among the cat videos. And frankly, if someone I know has gone and died on me, I would rather know.
This past year it seems like someone I knew was dying every other week and it does not appear to be slowing down. When you are a child, you cry more about your pet dog dying than your uncle. Now, if you are like me, you cry when the cat dies and you cry when your uncle dies and you cry when some acquaintance dies. It is, I think, because these people, and the pets, have been around for years and you are never ready. They are a piece of our life, our history, our childhood and now they are gone.
My faith says: “I have made death a messenger of joy. Wherefore dost thou grieve?” And I say I grieve because I have lost the hugs. I may be able to send spiritual messages, but I can’t get the hugs anymore. I can’t talk in person. I can’t pet the cat.
Life does not pause at all while we are grieving. We still have to go to work, meet deadlines, clean the house and cook. That can be good for you. I like being around small children in a time of grief. They are a reminder that the future will happen with or without me.
Donna Flood at the Prince George Hospice Society says the demand for grieving programs tripled, maybe quadrupled, over the course of the pandemic. Everyone is grieving, not just for the people they have lost but also the life they lost - jobs, relationships, the ability to just go out and be with people. Learning how to cope with those losses and keep moving forward is hard work. You never “get over” the loss, you learn to accept it and make it part of your new normal.
Lately, I rediscovered the ability of my favourite books to help me get away. Going through my bookshelf, I found one that I bought from the author a few years ago. It is Bucked Off by Joyce Helweg, a local author from Fort St. James. It's about her journey through grief, memories, and acceptance after her husband’s sudden death. It made me laugh, cry, and best of all, helped me get past the part of grief that paralyzes me. I can look at the bright side of life again. I can remember the good times and the fun without breaking apart.
Grief is a journey, and journeys do not always go smoothly.
Spring is here.
The tulips are up in my yard and the deer have been by to snack on them. Taxes have been filed. It will take a while but life is returning to normal.
I just hope the dying is done for a while. At my age, I doubt it but I can dream.