Wednesday, 5 October 2016

On Loss and Letting Go

Loss, in terms of death, is something I know a lot of people struggle to talk about, and, indeed, to go through. It's never easy but it's something that I think we need to speak about more. Especially as repressed feelings of upset and difficulty in losing someone are things that can greatly affect people years and years later, when they could have resolved those feelings much earlier, or at very least, they could have come to terms with what has happened sooner rather than later.

There are many people I know, who are my age, that have never lost anyone, or have only experienced this kind of loss recently. As a result they don't really know how they would deal with it, personally, or how they can really support anyone else who is coming to terms with death.

I have become very familiar with death over the years, and it's something that, as a child, my parents let me become more and more exposed to. The first death of a relative I remember was when I was around five; I obviously didn't know the ins and outs of it at the time, but I was told from the very beginning of my life that death is a very normal thing that happens to everyone. As we grow older, of course, so do our older relatives. My Grandma died when I was 11 and that was the first time I was really, personally, effected by death. It wasn't entirely sudden, but there certainly wasn't a long lead up, and it was shocking for me at the time. We were very close and I'd spent a huge portion of my childhood with her.

What I remember most though, is how strong my Mum was at this time. She'd already lost her dad, when she was still a teenager, so she wasn't new to the experience. But she was obviously devastated. And despite her loss she was with us and she didn't push us away in upset: she accepted it and she helped us to do the same. Without a doubt, acceptance is the hardest step, but it's the first step and the one you have to surpass to carry on living properly yourself.

I think the earlier you come to terms with death, and learn about it through experience and learn to accept it, the better you become at dealing with it later in life.

Not long after my Mum's Mum died, my Dad's did, within about a year and a half. And that hurt too, but in my memory it wasn't so bad. It's never going to be easy, but it's honestly a learning process, of acceptance and appreciation of the time you had with them. Time helps too. The longer you're without them the more you get used to them not being there I suppose.

Since then, a couple of other members of my family have passed away, some extremely upsettingly and one at an age far too young, but it has become easier to come to terms with. And the most recent was, in the long run, the least painful. It still hurt, still more than any physical pain I can ever remember, but it happened, and I'm okay with that. And that's what you have to learn to say to yourself. With time it becomes a quicker, more logical and more comfortable process. With time you feel like yourself again, despite someone who has been a big part of you not being there with you.

And I know no one wants to hear that the only way to learn to deal with death is to be exposed to it, but ultimately you can't fully grasp it without that life experience.

Death is always difficult. Whether it's all too sudden, or a very long, even prolonged, process.

But the thing you have to remember, is that despite letting go of them as a physical entity, you can hold onto your memories of them and with them forever. And at the end of the day, the happy times you spent with them are what need to be remembered, not the heartbreak of losing them.

In time you learn how to overcome the pain, and how to move on, without forgetting.

Until next time.

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