Loss is a terrible, painful, lonely thing. It brings with it change whether we want it or not….sadness, anger, emptiness and a whole range of other emotions that are unsettling to deal with because they rock our world. They interrupt the rhythm of our life. As a nurse I frequently ask patients to measure their pain on a scale of 0-10. Zero is no pain and 10 is a wild dog ripping your arm off. Loss is a vicious rabid wolf ripping your whole body apart.
There are many different kinds of loss…death of a loved one, the loss of a job, estrangement from a friend or family member, the loss of a pet, illness or the realization that our body has incrementally changed throughout the years and has left us a shell of our former selves.
As difficult as it may be to deal with loss, it has to be dealt with, it demands it and life frequently changes course during the process. The impact of loss varies from person to person and unfortunately there is no set sequence of events that get one through it. And, there is also no time frame within which it must be accomplished. A horrible tragedy with many variables becomes an enemy that must be vanquished in order for us to survive and move on.
So time-tested rituals take over…funerals are planned, job resumes are refreshed, we mourn the loss, tears are shed, remorse for harsh words haunts us and we learn to adjust to the loss. Father Time suddenly becomes a friend. Nothing seems to take away the pain. Whatever your loss, it leaves its mark and little piece of your self will forever be gone. But as the minutes turn into hours and the hours into days and the days into months, slowly the patch on our wound begins to heal a little and the immediate pain begins to recede so it is no longer crushing and moves toward being tolerable. And we begin to live again.
Our heart beats, our lungs expand and deflate, we move, we talk, our brains function, but always present is the “loss”. The level of pain has simply become tolerable. And we wait. Wait for a new pet to fill the void, a new job offer, a medication to ease our physical pain, a cure, a reconnect with the estranged friend, or for the ultimate end to our pain.