Wednesday, November 14, 2007


This is a week of losses. Actually, for a couple of weeks now I've heard a lot about losses. Like endings, it's a common theme, but these are new losses. The kind of permanent losses that only death creates. Close, painful and heart-wrenching.

As you might expect, I don't hold much faith in the stages of grief. I think it's just something we want to grab onto to help us navigate the waves of emotion crushing loss leaves in its wake. And the research is a little sketchy on the stages.

People turn to faith. To others for support. They isolate. Throw themselves into work. Run. Drink. Pretty much anything goes.

The first time I worked with a woman who had lost her son, I went and read about this very specific kind of loss. The lost of a child is thought to be the most difficult to cope with. She was devastated and I was not of much help. She wore a picture of her beautiful child pinned to her lapel, always. She was not planning to get over the loss, ever. I could tell.

I've since seen many women who have lost sons, and daughters. Fewer men. Men don't come to talk as often as women. And people who have lost others. Parents, lovers, best friends. Through accidents, violent random acts, natural causes. Some of these people have done remarkably well in moving on. Never forgetting, but going on with life. Some of the losses have become part of my life. I remember them as if I'd known them.

It is possible that we choose our reactions in these situations.

I am more and more convinced that our happiness or unhappiness depends more on the way we meet the events of life than on the nature of those events themselves.
-- Alexander Humboldt

or should never give yourself a chance to fall apart because, when you do, it becomes a tendency and it happens over and over again. You must practice staying strong, instead.
--Elizabeth Gilbert

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