The last few days have been somber here in the Mofo house. My son, Moose, is 5, making him just about the same age as most of the victims at Sandy Hook. This shooting is affecting me in ways I couldn’t even imagine. I mean, it’s rarely not sad when a kid dies, but when it’s not something that immediately affects me, I pause, think about how sad it is, then move on.
Sandy Hook has me still pausing. Or wishing I could. Wishing I could pause the moments where my kids are laughing… or when I’m hugging them… or just always. Just pause everything. But I can’t. And because I can’t, I’ve spent a whole lot of time crying. Life is awful sometimes. It doesn’t make sense. And there’s nothing we can do or say or think to make sense of it at all.
In the end, we get through it and move on.
I think sometimes the hardest moment in loss is the moment you realize that moving on is something that will happen. Like when my sister died, I didn’t want to go to sleep. I didn’t want time to pass. I didn’t want distance between the last time I talked to her or saw her or the last time she was a part of this world. I wanted to still feel near to that… and I never wanted to have to move on. The moving on happened, and we expect that to be painful… and it was… exactly as much as it could be. But the realization that moving on was inevitable? I didn’t realize how painful that would be. Facing myself and explaining to myself that there was going to be a point where I was going to be okay living a life without my sister. That was hard.
And each loss is different. Each grief is different. Sometimes, you face the realization that you’ll be moving on from this person’s life and passing long before they’re even dead. Sometimes years before they’re dead. Or maybe you just move on without thinking about it… and that might or might not be okay with you.
But man…. death is hard. The worst, really. Especially since there’s no right or wrong way to cope with it at all… while people around you sort of expect there to be.
Anyway, I know this is an awful downer just days before Christmas. But that’s where we’re at. But I’ll end it with this little anecdote about death and gift giving:
My grandmother died in her 70s from a not-too-drawn-out battle with cancer. After she died, my dad and his brothers used part of the money from her estate to organize a family trip to Ireland. It was my husband and me and my cousins and aunts and uncles. We all went together. We visited the town where my grandmother’s father was born. We still have family there, and they still own the tiny house he grew up in. The house was maybe half the size of my 2 bedroom apartment, and 14 people lived there. We “toured” the house and the farm and the town. And I spent a week in Ireland getting to know my family better. It was a pretty amazing experience and brought me closer to my cousins, and made us a tighter family. I like to think that was a pretty great final gift from my grandmother. And that she’d be pleased to know she helped make that happen.
How well or not well have you dealt with losses in your life? Do you think it’s harder to deal with loss without religion? Do you find yourself getting angry or irritated with religious platitudes over death? What has helped you move on? Do you do anything to honor the memories of the ones you’ve lost? Are holidays harder for you than the rest of the year? Would you like me to post a happier question next week?
The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.