What has loss in common with the scent of roses and the gladsome song of birds? I’m not sure, but there is a connection somewhere. At the moment the connection eludes me because I am thinking of people who, this spring, have left this life. There has been a recent death in my extended family; friends have lost their dear ones; and the writing community has said farewell a woman whose humor and kindness will sorely be missed. So I am not thinking of flowers and birdsong but of the Language Of Loss.
Oh, yes, there is such a language. I know that as we grow older it is inevitable that we lose some of the people we value and love, but each time this happens I fling questions into the void. Why her? I have cried. Did it have to be him? And the ache within, the one that began with the first great loss and which never has really healed, throbs anew.
Then the questions come. The words of the Language Of Loss are universal, common to everyone in every country and in every walk of life. I wish I had… I could have … if only… why didn’t I? Those insidious words echo in the still hours of the night or slide into busy daylight thoughts. I have listened to them so often and know that tears have no power over them, for they remind me that now there is no going back, no redress for things undone or words unsaid.
If only I wrote
One last time… busy over
The questions are most strident when the death is unexpected. Accident or suicide robs us of our last bits of armor—a disease to hate or the expected end of a long life—something feared yet half expected. With sudden death come an outpouring of questions for which there is no hope for an answers. Why? Mourns the heart. What could I have done? Why did this happen? And the plaintive questions go on.
Sorrow at the loss
At questions never answered…
Flowers felled by frost.
The Language Of Loss comes to us all, but somewhere it begins to change. Whether in a month, a year or tens of years, the mournful questions slowly fade and gentler, happier ones take their place. Do you remember? We ask each other, and we smile or laugh out loud at memories that are filled with the sunshine of past times. Remember that time when… remember what she said… and, oh, how proud he was that day? And then the sun grows bright again, the birds sing as they have always done, and we can be glad of the roses blooming in our garden.
Memory can bring
Laughter and healing tears…
Rainbows after rain.
This healing language is also born from loss, but instead of burdening with gloom they fill us with hope and the memory of love that strengthens and enriches. We become free to celebrate the lives we have lost. And, still carrying the scars of great sadness, we turn to the life force that carries us forward. Perhaps we remember the words of Andre Gide: For love is eternal and man is immortal, and death is a horizon… and a horizon is only a line beyond which we cannot see.