Tuesday, September 20, 2011

A Way to Feel Closer to those we have Lost...

In some regards, some people may just do this naturally anyway, but it doesn't hurt to have a reminder of an idea that reflects human nature and being connected to one we have lost.  When the comforting presence of someone we love is not tangible anymore, it can be quite disconcerting. One can feel lost, disoriented, not grounded. It is a very natural part of the grieving process. It is as if something magically made the person disappear and a support, something dependable or a pillar of one's life is just missing-gone. It is like having the rug pulled out from under you.

It is natural to "need" something tangible, just something to hold onto that was part of that person.  It reminds us that we are not "crazy", that this person existed and touched our lives in a special way.  Often people will hold onto a keepsake of the loved one we lost and perhaps carry it, wear it or stow it away somewhere as something to go to feel connected to the person and love that was shared with that lost loved one. This is the point of today's post.

Having something to connect to, to assure us that we had with that person is and was still real, is important.  When my mother died, I asked my dad if I could have a pendant that I had given her for mother's day a year or two before her passing.  It was a symbolic silhouette of a mother holding a child which was shaped into a heart.  It was one gift that I gave to my mother that had a lot of meaning to me to give to her and share my feelings of how important she was to me. I wore it daily for a long time. I would touch it when I missed her or felt uncomfortable about something in my life. It would assure me that the love I felt for and from her were real-still. I felt special having something she wore fairly close to her heart at times and a way that could keep her close to mine. It was tangible and the thought of it brought me warm feelings.  I was able to stop wearing it regularly after a while because at some point, I felt her in my heart and didn't need to hold onto something physical or concrete anymore.

A woman, whom I rented a room from when I was in school, had done a similar thing in a bigger way. She had a middle-school age son who had been killed by a drunk driver seven years before I moved in there.   She had kept his room exactly as it was the last time it was the last time he had been in there.  She said I could look, but not touch.  I didn't really go in, but I did peek at it in amazement.  I wouldn't call it a shrine to him, so much as a way for her to hold on to him as long as she could. The room was very neat, with posters of bygone sports figures, pop musicians and the latest pretty and famous females of that time period when he died.  It was like stepping back in time.  While I was still living in that house, her youngest son was about to graduate high school  and although I can't be sure what her exact thoughts or feelings were, it appeared that she had decided she could move on to a different phase.  By that time, the son that she lost would have been on his own or in college. The youngest son was getting ready to leave home within a few months for college and somehow it appeared to be okay to let her "children" move on into a different stage of their lives and what would be a new stage for her too.  It seemed okay to not have to hold onto to the older brother of her youngest son anymore. She could let them both go on. and she could have her empty nest. It was comfortable for her.

An elderly gentleman, whom I brought Meals-on-Wheels to everyday, kept his house decorated for Christmas indoors all year round.  It seemed unusual, but I felt that it was his life.  As time went by, little by little, I would get bits of the story behind it. His wife had died during the Christmas Holiday season suddenly, one year and it was his way of being loyal to her memory.  He expressed that it was the way he felt comfortable and not alone in his home.  He was safe, seemed to be living in reality, but it made him comfortable. 

My father kept my mother's plants going for a long time before I took them from him when he moved out of state. He didn't care about those houseplants before, but she had a green thumb and seemed to have a magic with them that was all hers. It helped keep her by him. I've seen a boy wear his grandfather's special watch, a woman wear a small glass vial pendant with some of a loved one's ashes in them, and a dog sleep in the area of his owner that passed away. There are many ways that people can feel connected to a loved one they've lost during times of the grieving process as we grow and "process" what has happened.

We all can let go of those ways or not have as tight a hold on some of these things, as we adjust and learn that we won't always need something physical to know that the special love that was there existed and still does! We learn that we do and can carry it in our hearts, always.

I wish that each day brings you peace and comfort in your life.

Mary Ellen

1 comment:

  1. These are great ways to feel closer. My hubby lost his mother when he was 15, and he keeps things relating to clovers, as his mom's birthday was on St. Patrick's Day.

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