Over the past two years, I’ve been amazed by the number of people I know who have lost someone. Two friends and several co-workers have lost their mothers. Others have lost grandparents, fathers, siblings, and close friends. A friend of mine recently lost two grandmothers and her sister within two months. That’s on the verge of being unbearable, especially when at least one of those passings was unexpected.
When Tom died, a friend of mine gave me a book of daily meditations by Martha Whitmore Hickman called Healing After Loss. The author lost her daughter in an accident and that personal tragedy gave her an amazing power to provide comfort to what I imagine is thousands of people trying to make it though the haze that follows death. I’ve bought and given this book to several people I know who have lost someone in the past two years.
My friend who just lost her sister told me she finally understands how I feel. In some ways I’m sure that is true. But in other important ways it’s not true at all. Each of us has a unique experience with the person we’ve lost. That’s actually comforting to me. People who have had loss can relate and empathize, but my experience is mine alone. Just like my relationship with Tom in life was special to me, my relationship to him in death is also special to me. It has become another thing that defines who I am.
A book like Healing After Loss is not helpful because the author knows exactly how we feel. It’s helpful because we each read her words and interpret them how we need to to understand our own loss.