Dealing with Grief

It’s a sad and lazy Sunday afternoon and I have just watched a quick, angry summer storm drop heavy rain and snap branches that now clutter my yard. As the rain poured down I thought, “Nature is weeping with me today. Weeping for those who have gone.” In the past week, two young, vital and vibrant colleagues died suddenly, leaving family and friends stunned, bewildered and grief-stricken. I cannot make sense of these tragedies or explain them. I am not meant to.

It seemed ironic to me that these two deaths came during a week in which I had been focusing on celebrating the magic of everyday life. Sitting with a mug of tea this past Monday night, I had written the e-mail invitation to a monthly Women’s Circle that I host. The invitation began this way…”Last week, walking from a meeting in one building to another across the street, I nearly rushed by a group of rose bushes. Somewhere in my head a voice said, “Stop!” And when I bent to smell these wonderfully fragrant flowers I realized that this moment was the highlight of my day, a happy surprise that I had almost missed. How many times in any week do we buzz by the roses in our life?”

Today I am finding it difficult to experience the roses in my life because I am much more focused on the thorns. That is my choice, of course, and I am trying to be patient with myself as I work through my feelings of grief and loss. I understand that while the unexpected deaths of my two colleagues sparked these feelings, they are connected to deep-seated fears of losing the people I love the most in this world. Losing them in an instant, without time to say goodbye.

I do not know how I will sort through all of this, but I do know that I can walk outside right now, stand beside the one rose bush that has survived in my shady yard, and acknowledge its beauty and perfection. And when I hear a bird sing her beautiful song, I can be deeply, deeply grateful for the magic of this day and for all the people I love – those whom I will see again, and those whose memory I honor in writing this today.
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Post Script: I shut down my computer and left for dinner. It began to rain again and after a few minutes in the restaurant, I looked out to see the sun shining while the rain continued to fall. I hurried outside and there it was – a magnificent double rainbow reconfirming the magic of everyday life.

23 Responses to Dealing with Grief

  1. Bhavna July 22, 2012 at 3:52 am #

    Dear Sharon, I am reading these posts and silently taking in all the wisdom that you and others here have to share. I have a lot to learn. Thank you for sharing these valuable and insightful experiences. I found the quote below very deep and spiritual and thought of sharing it…
    ♥ღ Extreme difficulties should be regarded a compliment ♥ for it is a Sign that you’re a Soul being tested to see if you’re ready to rise to the next level towards Enlightment ღ♥ღ Unknown

    • sharon July 22, 2012 at 11:43 pm #

      Dear Bhavna, you have much wisdom to share and I look forward to hearing from you in the coming months – we will all learn from each other. Thank you for your comments and for sharing the thought-provoking quote. So good to hear from you!

  2. Helen Tai June 11, 2012 at 3:02 pm #

    Hi Sharon – thanks for starting this post. I read it a week ago and have been reflecting on it ever since. I was surprised by how much Gary’s death saddened me -he was always kind to me, but we weren’t particularly close. Yet the suddenness and the tragedy of it struck me deeply. Though I don’t know them, I can’t stop thinking about his wife and children – how hard it must be to lose someone without warning and how much pain they must be in. And of course it’s a reminder of our own mortality – something we are so practiced at avoiding thinking about that when someone dies, we are emotionally unprepared. Yet the only sure thing in life is that we will die. So I echo everything your friends have written and especially agree with Irene – if we remember that each day may be our last, we can make the right choices to live a meaningful life.

    • sharon June 12, 2012 at 6:37 am #

      Helen, thanks very much for circling back to share your comments and your feelings with us. I also thank you for the reminder that our choices determine if we are living a meaningful life. Let’s try to live today to the fullest!

  3. Katy Fillman June 5, 2012 at 1:43 pm #

    Sharon,

    My heart goes out to you and the families of your colleagues. Loss and grief can not fully be understood or explained in words; it can only be felt. I am moved by your words and I hope that I, too, can embrace the small meaningful moments in life that I typically overlook. It is vital for all of us to appreciate the blessings that we have in our own lives. I will leave you with a quote from one of Shakespeare’s sonnets, “But if the while I think on thee, dear friend, All losses are restor’d and sorrows end.”

    • sharon June 5, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

      Thanks so much for your comment and for sharing Shakespeare’s words, Katy. Your warm expression helps me and, I am sure, others. Thank you!

  4. Katy June 4, 2012 at 5:52 pm #

    Sharon, I lost my mother 2.5 years ago after 6 yrs of colon cancer. Although it was not sudden…one of the greatest gifts in my life as the youngest of her 5 children was loving her enough to tell her it was ok to go. Each person we lose is a gift. In your reflections over time see what beautiful gifts they have given you. How did they live their life? What was most important to them? What would they tell you about your grief? For all of you who have suffered loss, I pray a calming solice will ease your soul as they watch over you. Pretend you’re standing face to face and their feet are on yours, giving you a wonderful peaceful connection to the earth.

    • sharon June 4, 2012 at 7:28 pm #

      Katy, what an incredible gift you gave your mother in “loving her enough to tell her it was ok to go” and what a priceless lesson for all of us. I have read often about how people try to hold on to those who are about to cross over, unwilling to let them go. Your advice and your prayer for all of us are both very inspiring. Thank you so much!

  5. MJ June 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

    Sharon,
    Your blog on dealing with grief is beautifully written. It’s so sad when we lose someone unexpectedly, especially when they are so young. Grief is definitely a process. It takes time to put it in perspective and to continue on. I believe it was Robert Frost who said, “the one thing I have learned about life . . . it goes on”. Boy does it. I’m so glad you took the time to smell the roses. This is an important reminder that we all need to take time to reflect and enjoy the small wonders in everyday life. I, too, have deep-seated fears of losing those closest to me. They probably have those very same fears about me. Life is very challenging and very rewarding. We need to find time to take it all in and enjoy each other while we can.

    • sharon June 4, 2012 at 7:40 pm #

      MJ, thank you for sharing your perspective, your fears, and insightful comments with us. It takes courage to share, even when we know that we can learn so much from each other. I especially appreciate your thought that “Grief is definitely a process.” You remind us that we need to be patient with ourselves, and that is an important reminder. Thanks so much!

  6. Irene Infanti June 4, 2012 at 4:10 pm #

    I lost both of my parents to sudden deaths. My father died when I was 18 and my mother when I was
    just 25. I also spent years working in the CCU where I saw people die suddenly without indication.
    What I have learned from these painful experiences is to appreciate every day as if it were your last
    because we truly never know when our last day (or the last day of our loved one’s life) is. There is no
    sense to be made when these things happen. It is just another gentle reminder that every day is truly
    a gift and we need to treat it (and each other) as such!

    • sharon June 4, 2012 at 4:31 pm #

      Thank you very much for sharing your personal experiences with us, Irene. You have excellent suggestions for us – or shall we call them “gentle reminders” as you do? I love the thought “that every day is truly a gift” and wonder how many of us live our lives as if we truly believed it? Thank you!

  7. Amy Jumbelic June 4, 2012 at 10:56 am #

    Sharon – your words were so appreciated today as I read them. Gary was a dear friend and someone whom I respected so greatly. The suddeness of his death has left me feeling so deeply sad. I am trying hard to continue to live my life in a way that shows those that I love, how much I care, and that I am focused on the important things in life. I know Gary lived his life every day in that way, and I know for sure his family knew every moment how important they were to him. I could relate to your message also, because yesterday I spent much of the day allowing myself to be “unproductive” as I sat in our garden near our pond and soaked in a little of the sun and all of the beauty around me. Somehow it seemed to soothe my soul just a little bit and… somehow I think Gary would have approved of that kind of “unproductiveness”. Hugs to you and thanks
    Amy

    • sharon June 4, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

      Hugs and thanks back to you, Amy! I appreciate your comments and love the fact that you sat in your garden yesterday. Nature offers us many gifts that often go unnoticed – but you took the time to drink them in. Thanks for sharing this with us.

  8. Sherry Cai June 4, 2012 at 8:39 am #

    Sharon, thx for sharing with us your feelings and experiences.
    It’s always hard to deal with the losses since we can never ever be prepared for losses like this. How can we?
    Right before my father passed away in 2008, the whole family thought we were ready.
    My father has Parkinsons for 20 years, we thought we were prepared for this moment for a long time.
    But still, when we lose him, it hit us hard.
    No one can ever be prepared for loss of a loved one, whether it’s within 1 seconds or 20 years.
    Since we can never prepare for the loss, we can only cherish every moment we currently have with them.
    Carpe Diem. Have a great day every single day.

    • sharon June 4, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

      Sherry, many thanks for your comments and advice. You are kind to remind us that while we can never truly prepare for the loss of someone we love, “we can only cherish every moment we currently have with them.” Thank you for the suggestion to have a great day every single day.” I need to rethink this day immediately!

  9. Yodit June 4, 2012 at 8:27 am #

    Sharon,

    This was truly a beautiful post! I,too, share in that same fear of losing loved ones without an opportunity to spend time or tell them I love them. And it’s been through those thoughts that I’ve realized that life always affords us the opportunity to appreciate and change our perspective about things in our lives that we may not have truly had the time or made the time to consider. And so that is what death of those around me has shown me. It has afforded me the opportunity to see the beauty of life and how we must cherish it and those who are in it with us. It affords us the opportunity to help us realize that we are truly vapors–here today and gone tomorrow but we have the opportunity to live our lives out loud and to the fullest while we are here. Just like the storm affords us the opportunity to appreciate the sunny day! I pray strength and peace and healing through God to all of us who have lost loved ones! May we live our lives to show the world that theirs mattered!

    • sharon June 4, 2012 at 4:16 pm #

      Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, Yodit. I am grateful to you for all of your comments, and especially your realization that “life always affords us the opportunity to appreciate and change our perspective about things in our lives that we may not have truly had the time or made the time to consider.” It is an excellent reminder to us all.

  10. jillgentile June 3, 2012 at 10:50 pm #

    thanks for sharing your experience and heart with us, Sharon. we spend our lives grieving but so often numb ourselves to that – it may be the place where we live and love. Somewhere between that precious moment of experiencing/”having” and letting go. speaking of loss & aliveness, I’m happy to re-find (be found by) you.

    • sharon June 4, 2012 at 6:24 am #

      Thank you, Jill, for your thought-provking comments. I will be thinking about them today, especially your words ‘Somewhere between that precious moment of experiencing/”having” and letting go.’ And yes, we re-find each other on our respective journeys. I am happy to hear from you again and I hope that you have a magical day!

  11. priscillaalgava June 3, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

    Sharon, I, too, am struck by the wonderment of deep grief and loss co-existing with the appreciation of all the beauty,goodness and kindness I experience each day each moment. I live with an open loving heart and keep alive the need to constantly live in gratitude for what is and for all the wonderful people in my life. I lost my mother last June 21. It seems incredible that a year has passed. The loss aches not less- it just gets different with healing and the passing of time. She will always be in my heart and mind. She still guides me. Perhaps the lunar eclipse tomorrow will enable all of us to heal and let go and embrace the joy that is possible for each of us individually and for all of us collectively! Love and light

    • sharon June 3, 2012 at 10:06 pm #

      Thank you very much for your comments, Priscilla, and for sharing your experiences. I admire your ability to, as you describe it, “live with an open loving heart and keep alive the need to constantly live in gratitude for what is and for all the wonderful people in my life.” This is good advice to all of us! I send love and a hope that the healing process brings you even greater peace and comfort.

    • Yodit June 4, 2012 at 8:30 am #

      Priscilla,

      I am so sorry to hear that you have lost your mother. I just wanted to let you know that I have a friend who started an organization called H.E.R Day–(Here Everyone Relates) http://www.her-day.org/Pages/aboutus.aspx and its sole focus is to encourage and support women who’ve lost their mother. They just had their annual conference this weekend but I would love for you to check it out and I pray that it may take a part in the healing process for you.

      God bless you!
      Yodit