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IN PASSING
Writing condolence cards is hard. Words seem inadequate. EVERYTHING seems inadequate, actually. What can you say or do that relates your sympathy, your empathy, your sorrow in the face of someone's loss? Mostly I think it's worthy that you try. That you say you're sorry, that you send your love and a heartfelt note. That you open your arms and hold someone tight. Or let them cry. Or just listen. It's never enough, though. Nothing is.

My dad died 14 years ago on December 20th. 5 days before Christmas. A friend's father died 2 days ago. And my sister-in-law's father died yesterday. It tinges the holidays with sorrow; how can it not? And yet, Christmas isn't colored completely by my father's passing. I suppose I think about him more this time of year and am saddened that he isn't here to share it with us. I miss him, but the immediateness of it has faded. The news of the 2 deaths this week has prodded it into a sore spot again. Something tender and painful that sits under my breastbone and throbs more than usual.

How can you face losing a parent? The one who helped to bring you up, for better or for worse. A friend told me once it was like feeling the conveyor belt of life move another inexorable place forward toward that final drop off. Even when the death is caused by some inevitable sentence of illness, even if you think you're prepared, there's no denying the shock and anger that accompany the actual fact. The injustice that it has to be like this: that someone we love can pass out of our reach forever.

It's not just the potential that they'll never fulfill, the things they'll never do or see. It's that they won't do or see them with US. We no longer get to share OURSELVES. We no longer get to see ourselves reflected in their eyes. It's not just their loss: it's OURS.

We never know from day to day, when it will be our last chance to tell someone we care about that we love them. To share a smile, or a hug, or a laugh. Every day with the people you love, every conversation, every shared moment is a gift. Not just at Christmas time, but all the time. Tell them so.

Thrilling Filling Belated Birthday Wishes to cap_killer, ms_jacket, and Sam!
 sad
mood: sad
music: Sting—Fields of Gold


Comments

Very true, everything. *Hugs*

Thank you. I appreciate the hugs!

This is so apt today

My good friend's husband died last week, after a long illness, having held on and held on till his eldest child's 20th birthday last Sunday, he finally breathed his last on Wednesday.
It's hard sharing the grief of the family, but not being the grieving one.
It's a lot easier to show your love while someone is still here...

Re: This is so apt today

It sure is, though it's hard in its own way much too often. Worth it, though!.

My dear Liz,
This is such a ripe topic for me, having just last month gone through another wave of the trauma created for me personally when my three year old nephew died on my 28th birthday. This aside from everybody and everything else effected. That was 29 years ago!
SO yes, a lot of the hurt of death is the loss to those of us left behind.
I still miss my Mom and my Dad, although the pain is not as immediate and poignant all the time as it once was. I still have times, bouts, when it almost is. Death is a funny thing and we are somehow a little removed from it in our culture, so when it happens close there is a kick to it.
All we can really do for the bereaved is to acknowledge their pain.

It IS a funny thing (funny peculiar, of course, not funny haha), and you're right, I think we are removed from it somehow in many ways. I think most people want to gloss over it and move away from it as quickly as possible. But I would hate to think of people doing that to ME after my passing, and so try hard not to do it myself.

I always feel clumsy and not at all comforting when I write condolence letters/cards, but as you say, it's important to at least try. The worst thing is being avoided all together since death is an unpleasant thing.

I had a pang of sadness/anxiety when on the phone with my mother last night. I usually try not to think of them getting sick or dying, but something made me suddenly think "and one day she'll be gone". :(

I can't think about my mom like that at all. It makes me freak out :(

(Anonymous)

Losing a parent is like losing a part of yourself. :( Losing my father four years ago was like someone ripped away the ground under my feet and I was just falling and falling without noone to catch me. Because he, the only one who always did catch me no matter what, was now gone. :(

So sad to hear about your loss and your friends' more recent loss. Just knowing that someone cares is enough, the exact words aren't important.

You care. They are blessed!

Hugs
Mia

http://mias.blogg.se
http://www.meraord.se

Thanks Mia. I know you know exactly how it feels. Hugs!

So true, Liz.

When Björn's dad died a couple of years ago I was struck by the fact that the person who was our anchor, who so often was right when he told us that everything would work itself out, the person who was comfort itself, was so suddenly gone. And there was no one, absolutely no one, who could anchor us in that moment. No one who could reassure us or comfort us the way only he could have done.

I think on some level, one never gets over it. Even if time heals and the pain lessens with time, it's still hard to think about.

I was just saying on Twitter yesterday that I don't want my parents to die. they're in great health, but they're also 80, so every cold or flu feels like it might be he beginning of the end. Can't imagine life without them.

Anders' parents are over 80 as well, and I get nervous every time they fall sick with a cold. It just doesn't bear thinking on, does it?

Your thoughts very close to what I would say as well. My mom died 11 years years ago this week, and for sure I can only think of her with happiness now - missing her and regretting that she didn't get to watch the kids grow up, but I smile when I think of her.

But when she died, it felt horribly - as though I were a completely different person, as though the only person who ever did or could love me unconditionally is gone, and that changes you. You have to become tougher.

(Anonymous)

Yes.. that's exactly how it felt...

/Mia

http://mias.blogg.se
http://www.meraord.se

Already I am steeling myself for a phone call about any of our grandparents. It's not the same as a parent, and I know we're already ridiculously lucky and blessed to have two sets of grandparents still with us. As for a parent, I can't fathom it. I really can't. Especially since my mom had cancer at one point, I feel so thankful she has been here to experience my wedding, her first grandchild - all the things she missed experiencing with her mother.

My heart breaks for those who lose family members anytime, but especially right around Christmas. I imagine it makes it hard to enjoy the holidays for years to come...which kinda compounds the sadness.

It certainly adds another dimension to the holidays, though time does make a difference.

(Anonymous)

Having lost both of my parents, I so understand. No matter how old you were when they died, you still feel like an orphaned little kid.

-Heather

I can't imagine what it is to have lost both parents, though I suppose, like most people, I'll know someday...I hope it's VERY FAR in the future, though. It doesn't bear thinking on. :(

Thanks for this post, L. It tugged at my heartstings, having recently lost our dad a little over a month ago on November 30. I so relate to what you've said here. Even if my dad passed away at the ripe old age of 90.5, I felt and still feel this incomparable deep pain and emptiness. I didn't feel like celebrating Christmas at all but went thru the motions at my family celebration. I kept my feelings in check so I wouldn't exacerbate the sadness of the other family members. I felt better after Christmas altho I still preferred keeping to myself most of the time. I seem to have rallied at year's end, even posting on LJ after a long hiatus. And attempting to socialize again, like friending you and another LJer. Our family is having a sort of celebration for my dad's life this weekend and it will be a time to socialize...I recognize that the pain will come and go for a long time, but hopefully time will ease it, somehow.

Our mom passed away in 2006 and altho there's still that tug when I think about her, time seems to be mellowing the pain. I feel sorry though that she neither got to be at the weddings of 2 of her 3 grandkids and that of her youngest son nor enjoy her 2 little great grandkids. (At least our father did.)

But, like you said, we can't tell when our time is up and all we can do is try to relate with our loved ones in the best way we can, every day, every chance we get.

Time DOES make a difference, it's true, but the pain is always there, whether muted or not. Losing a parent is HARD. I'm sorry about your dad. :(

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