Endings…Anniversary of a Loss

Despite spectacular rainstorms, scented trees, and rainbows of flowers, joy eludes me. My heart aches and I am oversensitive to heat one day, and cold the next. Delays or inattentive drivers activate my body’s impatience. I tire easily and can’t seem to make progress in the things I’m trying to learn. Though I’m not yet conscious of it, my body is remembering loss.

Feeling gnawing sadness when the date turned from May to June, I felt inexplicable dread when the heat of summer arrived and struggle to anticipate much of anything. I’m unconsciously drawn toward other people one moment, away from them the next. I feel downright agitated by the indecision of others. My heart has begun noticing pieces of the past in the present.

I’m losing things in my own house, things I usually remember easily. Certain smells, sounds, textures, colors, images, or kinds of motion have the power to distract, disorient, or derail my thoughts in the middle of a sentence. I avoid plans to visit or even travel near that city, that neighborhood, or even similar buildings. My mind remembers and, unconsciously or consciously, resists the pain of loss.

Even when I try to rest, pray, sleep, or play I wrestle with what the loss means, evaluate how it has changed my life, and measure the impact of the loss within myself. My spirit notices familiar tethers still connecting me to the loss. While closure is elusive, and I want to address the loss wholeheartedly, I go back to what I helped me when it first happened.

1. Take a break — grief is exhausting! Sleep and rest, extra water, healthy meals, walks outside, deep intakes of breath and deeper still outflows – these simple daily rituals end up restoring not only my body, but my soul and spirit, as well.

2. Take the support healthy friends and family offer. Meals, companionship, prayer, getting out to explore somewhere new, trying a new activity together, and even sharing silent reflection have all helped me at different stages of grief. However, the help isn’t helpful if others try to hurry me past the loss, discount my powerful feelings, or reason me out of the contradictory thoughts of grief. With practice I’m getting better at avoiding such guilt traps.

3. Take time to read and reflect. I need to reflect, not only on what happened, but also on what I lost as a person. To move through the grief rather than around it, I need space where I can find the meaning of how loss has changed me. I found the kind listening and gentle questions of my counselor necessary to my growth through grief. She helped me discern how to let go of the harm and celebrate the benefits of what was lost, then memorialize the one I lost in a healthy way. Now, on the anniversary of my loss, reminiscing with family, friends, or a counselor familiar with grieving is what my heart needs most.”

Karen Bridges

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