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Everyday Losses

A Becoming Me Without You Blog
By Jeanie Stirling

Both Rachael and I have experienced the recent anniversary dates of the deaths of Larry and  Al. I think most people expect that it is the big anniversary dates that are the hardest for a  grieving person to handle. But, I suggest that it’s not those big days, it’s all the little everyday  moments that continue to creep up on us and knock us off our feet that remain difficult to  handle.  

One of mine is breakfast. We always ate breakfast together, talked about what was ahead of us  for the day, prayed together. Unless I set up a breakfast date with someone, I eat alone now.  Another one is driving home from someplace, any place and knowing that when I pull into the  garage, there isn’t anyone there waiting for me. There isn’t anyone to share with about where  I’ve been or what I’ve done.There’s no one to process with about what happened, to access  wisdom or a different viewpoint or just join in the joy of a special time. Being in a department  store and passing the men’s department will bring fleeting thoughts that I don’t need to stop off there anymore. But with that comes accompanying sadness that I can’t pick out something for  him or look for a replacement for that sweater he wore all the time.  

I think it’s this ebb and flow of grief that is unexpected. Grief is rarely predictable or linear as  those who list the “stages” of grief purport. It’s not a sadness to push through and arrive on the  other side. Knowing that it does continually ebb and flow is both good and bad. It’s good to  know that it will become less intense with time and less frequent, but it’s difficult to realize that  it will continue to arrive, often without warning, so you won’t feel completely untouched by it  for the rest of your life. It simply becomes part of who you are. You and your world are forever  changed. Molly Matlock wrote:  

 I am only just now understanding.  

 The difference between your death and your absence.   Your death was a singular event.  

 But your absence will go on forever.”  

So for those of you who are grieving, be gentle with yourself. Give yourself time and space. And for those of you walking alongside someone who is grieving, be patient. Your grieving  friend is most definitely feeling cut off from the life they once knew. They are trying hard to  adapt to a new reality. It takes a tremendous amount of energy to navigate this new life without  

the very person who would have normally been there to help. The many secondary losses of  friendships, identity, companionship, plans, finances, intimacy, health . . . can feel  overwhelming. You don’t have to try to fix it. You don’t have to say a lot or do a lot. Tell them  you care and then invite them to do something with you. If they say no, that’s okay. Don’t take  it personally. But do ask them again later.

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