Sunday, December 18, 2011

Age is a learning experience that can’t be gained in the best college or university. With age comes wisdom and mature thinking. It is not our number of birthdays that make us wise however, it is the hurts, the losses, the tragedies we face and overcome. It is also the celebrations large and small of successes and how we accept them.

With every loss of someone we love, our lives change in some way. For months I’ve had my brother and his wife on my mind. He died suddenly on a Sunday morning in August and she passed away three months later.

How can my life ever be the same? We die a little bit with the death of our loved ones. But we learn something each time we face the pain. Hopefully we learn something that helps us with the time we have left. In talking with my brother’s daughter, I felt the raw edges of her grief. For months that family watched their mother fighting for her life, tortured with surgeries, and finally she passed away quietly under Hospice care.

The  cremains of this couple, married back in the fifties, are commingled in one urn and  buried in an ancient cemetery near the grave of our great-grandfather under massive oaks gray with moss.

Christmas is coming, but how do the daughters and grandchildren celebrate the holidays with joy when the home their tradition-loving mother filled with light, with delicious family meals, exquisite Christmas trees, and gifts lovingly bought or made, is no longer there. It hits them. You can't go home now because home with Mom and Dad is gone. That unconditional love from their parents is only a memory now.

Wisdom comes with this realization. Once we face the pain ourselves, we don’t judge how others handle grief. Once humbled we realize we have no right to judge. We have had our legs cut out from under us and we barely survived, we feel fortunate to still be here, so how could we judge anyone who is dealing with that pain. Empathy grows in places it never thrived before.

Once I was ignorant about this kind of loss. But I learned as I experienced losses of loved ones. Everyone deals with loss, with mourning, in their own way. No one can tell us how we should behave. No rules apply. No limits apply. We don’t get over it. We go on with our lives, and if we are lucky, we finally have days when we no longer feel that stabbing pain when we think of our loved one. We finally are able to talk about our loss without crying, but that doesn’t mean the hurt is gone. We just bury it deeper inside so we can continue to live in the real world.

Finding a way to reach out and help others seems to work best for healing. Starting a ministry for helping children, using our talents to teach others what we know, supporting Hospice or doing something for others in the name of our loved one gives us peace and comfort. Most of us have a need to keep the name of our loved one alive. “As long as we are remembered by even one person we continue to live.”

As my nieces and their children face life without the guiding light of their strong father and mother, my hope is for healing, and my prayers for peace in their lives are foremost on my mind.


DJan said...

To lose both parents in a single season is especially difficult, I would think. But your beautifully written and thoughtful post makes me think of my own losses and how I coped. One day at a time, and sometimes even one minute at a time. You do eventually get back to some semblance of normal, but you are never the same. Thanks for sharing this with me. I appreciate it.

Glenda Beall said...

Thank you, DJan for leaving your wise comment. Indeed, one day or even one minute at the time is how we cope for a long time.

Paula said...

Very powerful words, Glenda. I hope I will remember them when the time comes for me.

Abbie Taylor said...

This post hit home with me. Ever since my mother passed away ten days before Christmas in 1999 as a result of cancer, the holiday hasn't been quite the same. Now, with my family scattered across the country, it's usually just me, my husband, and my father who share a meal together on Christmas Day. This year, I decided that it's ridiculous to cook a big meal for just the three of us so we're going out. We did that on Thanksgiving, and that was great. Please visit my blog at to read a poem about how a familiar Christmas carol causes a lump to form in my throat, as I mourn my mother's passing.

Glenda Beall said...

Hi and thanks for your comment. I hope you feel comfortable talking to others and sharing your feelings when the time comes.
Sharing our pain with those who understand makes the journey a little easier. Holding the pain inside often causes illness, physical and mental.