Question: Dear Luise: Nine months ago I lost my Aunt suddenly (my mom’s sister) to cancer. On January 11, I lost a cousin to cancer and on February 10, my other Aunt (my mom’s other sister and my cousin’s mom.) I’m having so much anxiety about losing someone else I love, especially my mom. I feel myself not wanting to be close to anyone in fear that I’ll lose them and I can’t imagine handling another lose now or ever. I’m a Christian and I know in my heart they are in a better place but my flesh is angry, sad, and hurt. I’m in the process of finding a counselor because I honestly feel I can’t go on. I feel that I’m going crazy. Any other suggestions to help this process? A.
Answer: Dear A.: We all process the loss of a loved one differently. The reality that the person is gone, permanently, is very hard for most of us to accept. Without even looking at grandparents, aunts, uncles or cousins I have lost my mother, father, both sisters, three brother-in-laws, one sister-in-law, an unborn son, a premature son and an adult son…plus my son’s father. I am not even going to get into close friends and beloved pets. My point is that we have to come to terms with this.
That doesn’t mean that we can by-pass the incredible grief. We have to experience it every time in its entirety. We have to face, at the same time, that loss is going to keep coming until we actually reach the end of our own lives. We are all “perishable items” and we all have a “shelf life.” Resisting or denying that fact can cause us serious damage.
Every time I lose someone, the pain is just a fresh as it was the first time it happened. I don’t even care if they’re “in a better place.” That doesn’t help me. I’m not. I’m the one that got left behind. I have even felt at times that I didn’t want to stay here without them. That’s normal. I compare it to a roller-coaster ride because I don’t like roller-coasters. When I found myself on one…I just kind of hunkered down and rode it out. It scared me to death and made me sick but I couldn’t get off until it was over.
How you feel is normal. And it’s even worse because you have been hit several times in succession. There’s no way around it, over it, or under it…you have to go through it. And you can’t protect yourself by creating a barren life. That, too, is a kind of death. The only comfort is that you won’t feel like that forever, it WILL lessen…and that isn’t much help in the present. Hang on, feel their love…and love yourself through it. Blessings, Luise