By Chanda Alicea
Living with loss. Over the last several weeks, I’ve seen loss impact the lives of people I know, and my heart breaks for them. Whether it be the recent loss of a pet, or the memory popping up of a pet who has been gone for a couple of years, or a friend or a family member that has passed on, it seems that lately I have taken more notice of how loss is always all around us.
This isn’t anything new, but it’s sparked some things that I’ve had on my mind about grief. The first, is that saying we all hear that “time heals all wounds” is a load of garbage. Speaking from experience, time doesn’t “heal” a wound. Time just continues to pass whether we want it to or not. It forces us to carry on even though we want the whole world to stop so we can take as long as we need to process and adjust to a new normal. Time makes us acknowledge that the void in our heart that has been left will never be filled with or by that specific being again in our lifetime and we hopefully carry on feeling a little less sad every day. But time can also be a cruel reminder, especially in the age of social media. As is we don’t need enough reminders of moments or specific dates from the past, if you’re on Facebook, it’ll actually do the job for you and it can make your day or punch you right in the gut.
In truth, I sometimes want to tell time to suck it! What I wouldn’t give to go back in time for moments to relive or redo with those who I have lost who I hold near and dear to my heart. There are some things I’d love to change or second chances I’d love to have but I can’t, so my only way to now amend for those things are to live a life that I hope they are proud of.
The thing about love, loss and the passing of time is without a doubt how impactful and sneaky grief is. For example, grief is so sneaky and mean, that I am trying my damnedest not to cry while typing this post. Right now, my emotions are that raw and real. If you’re wondering what would spark such an outburst, I’ll tell you. Last Thursday the 27th was my grandmother’s birthday. She would have been 88 years old. 2 years ago, on my daughter’s first day of kindergarten, she lost her very quick and unexpected battle with pancreatic cancer. Now before I go any further, I am just going to acknowledge how upset she’d be that I’m talking about her in a public forum, because that’s how OG she was. She didn’t even like having her picture posted on social media. I know I’m breaking a rule, but she was the best and I love her so much, that I can’t not talk about her. My grandmother helped raise me after my parents divorced. She was my parent as much as she was a grandparent. She was a strong, smart, amazing woman. I loved listening to her tell her stories about how she grew up in a mining town. When I was a kid, we would always watch Gone with the Wind together when it came on TV. It was our favorite movie to watch together. We loved it so much that I gifted her a box set when Costco was selling it years ago and she LOVED it.
I’ve had several moments of near tears recently once I saw that Harkins is showing it as the first Tuesday Night Classic in August. I was actually so busy running around for most of the day Thursday with my daughter to keep me busy, that the sadness didn’t catch up with me…until Friday. I found myself having several moments on Friday where the tears just came out of nowhere. Like in the car on the way to the gym while thinking about how heartbroken my mom was the day before reminding me of what day it was, then in the Chick-fil-a drive thru line while waiting to pull up for my daughter’s food and finally that day when I was at lunch with a friend while talking about her.
Grief is a really fickle character. It comes and goes in waves. It hits you during the most inopportune times sometimes, but the most important thing I have learned about grief and loss is that no one gets to tell you how you should mourn or what they feel isn’t something you should be heartbroken over. No one gets to tell you how to feel. In those moments, their lack of empathy is speaking, so they think since it’s not a big deal to them, it shouldn’t be to you, the person who has lost something either. In most situations, this ties in and relates to people who lose their pets. I’ve seen a lot of pet loss recently and as a pet person, I can’t imagine someone telling me that losing my pet isn’t a big deal (this has happened to people I know). Pets are just as special and important because they are family! I repeat…PETS ARE FAMILY!!! I’ll never understand why people can’t fathom that the loss of a pet devastating. It’s not the same as losing a person, but it’s a loss just the same. Part of living life is dealing with loss. We can’t escape it, but we can make sure we allow ourselves the space we need to handle it. Whether it’s tears or whatever else you may need to do to cope. We also surround ourselves by people we can lean on to support us during these tough times (because we can’t always fight this alone) so we can continue to live, love and do right by those who have left us.