Grief, and the Lessons of an Unexpected Death

Amongst all the practical considerations of this blog, of my consulting business–the funeral planning and advanced directives and green burial research–it’s easy to lose myself in the practical and forget that death, first and foremost, is about loss, loss of love, grief.  And the practical is important, but only in that it simplifies and makes a very awful process less traumatic.

But the true work of going through a loss is emotional.

Hannah Richell, in these raw, open musings on the first anniversary of her husband’s death, brings that back, in words wiser than mine.  For all the practical preparation I urge on you, her experience speaks louder and is far far more important:

Grief is a landscape none of us can prepare for. It is as unique and personal as the individuals we mourn. But when it comes, it’s a wasteland, without maps or guides. It is a giant sinkhole, opening up where normal life once stood. You teeter at the edge and try not to fall.

I know now that the pain will never end, because the love I hold for Matt will never end. Both circle back endlessly. There is no joy now without a shadow of bittersweet sorrow, but I experience my feelings more fully; as if a dial has been turned and my emotions amplified — the good and the bad. All is transient and, yes, life is chaotic and fragile, but in my stronger moments I know such pain is a small price to pay for such love. I would not un-wish my life with Matt to not feel this way now.

I want you to be ready, prepared for a loss, because I think it’s wise and smart.

But I more want you to read this work, so you know you’ll survive the loss.

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