What Losing Someone You Love Has Taught Me

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Author: Elizabeth Overstreet
I was stuck on what to write because lately, many thoughts have flooded my mind. I hope this helps someone who might be going through an difficult time. And my words can offer help, solace, and encouragement.
Something very close to my heart right now, the grief process and losing someone you love. The pandemic we recently went through affected each of us , but it hit me. My mom died in the beginning parts of the pandemic in November 2020. It has almost been two years since her passing, it was like a gut punch when my dad died recently, within the past month.
There is something about death that leaves an indelible mark. It strips away those we love so much. It leaves you breathless, sad, and contemplating life, its meaning, your purpose, and why we must go through this painful process of losing someone we love so much.
I wanted to write this when my feelings and emotions were fresh because as time passes, it’s not that we forget about our loved ones, but I do think we lose touch with some of the intensity of feelings and emotions we process along the way.
Each day is a struggle. I often say it is only through experiencing something firsthand that we can understand the depths and complexities of emotions that go with that experience. Empathy comes in a close second. But, when something happens to you, it hits and is much more personal.
My mom’s death was so hard. She was the core and the heart of our family. he presented a strong front and was grateful and graceful for each act of love we did for her until the day she passed. She went into hospice.
When you’re going through this process with someone you love, it is mentally draining, because of the helplessness you feel, not being able to rescue or prevent the person you love so much from leaving this earth. I can only describe it as a selfless act, but likely nothing compared to the person who realizes their time on earth is ending.
For a while after my mom’s passing, the world didn’t feel quite right, and it still felt like something was missing. I have often picked up the phone, listened to a voicemail I have saved from my mom, and wanted to share something with her about something she had shared or taught me, but I realized that was no longer an option. It’s hard. And I tried to avoid these feelings until one day while driving. I had a breakdown of crying and emotions so explosive that it felt like I was releasing everything all at once that I had held inside.
Time passed, and with my mom’s passing, I became fixated on making sure my dad was ok each day. It’s not that I didn’t value my dad before. But, it’s something about losing a parent and realizing there is one left that puts you on a protective guard. Each day my dad would send a spiritual message to the family thread. And it was his way of showing love, feeding us spiritually, and also our way of knowing that he was ok.
My dad stayed busy following his marriage to my mom for 57 years and tried his best to move forward. But, I know it had to be hard as my mom had also left a significant imprint on his life. Time passed. Dad and I had talks. And I learned so much about him that I didn’t even know. A friendship blossomed. I would sit and listen to his view of the world, his experiences, and his self-reflections. Sometimes there were those routine calls where he told me about his day, his Doctor’s appointments, or how he was taking on a new project. But I was happy to have time with him.
And then I got the call from one of my brothers that Dad had a stroke. It was like I was punched in the gut and knew this wasn’t a good thing. I fell to the floor upon hearing the news and uttered , please not again. I wasn’t ready to lose my dad too. It was about 18 months after losing my mom.
I rushed to town where my dad lived along with my other siblings to help as much as possible with his care and recovery. And things seemed hopeful. He was making progress. We talked, cried, and sat quietly and prayed together. And then, his health took another turn, and we had to make delicate and difficult decisions about his care. He passed away less than a month ago.
It feels raw. It hurts. I cry a lot. I miss him so much. I wonder what other conversations I could have had with him if I did enough. Yes, there is a lot of wondering and self-reflection of what-ifs when you lose someone you love. And I know taking you through this journey, you might be like, how is this going to help me to grieve or manage the loss of a loved one.
And this is what I have to say. Sometimes we try to manage so much that we lose the moment to express and release our sadness. Grief is about leaning into the uncomfortable emotions and releasing them. Releasing emotions and acknowledging them is powerful because it allows you to move forward. Otherwise, you become stagnant in your emotional healing.
Some of the grief we express is sadness, but grief is also about losing connection with someone we love and care for deeply. It’s why the process is so complex. While it may feel unbearable, you will get through it. You will learn from it. You re-evaluate and recenter. Those are good things.
And while grief and loss are so complicated, when you love someone so much, you want to have that in your life desperately. It is better to have had them and this love from them than to not have them at all.


For more information about loss, grief, and healing, please click here for resources from CAMH (The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health).
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