Grieving a Loss That Does Not Leave

No one who is grieving compares one grief to another.

Pain and loss are personal, not categorical. Pain is what the suffering person says it is. It is experienced as such and there is no comfort in hearing about someone whose story is worse.

Yet, there is a process of healing that can be accessed when the grief has a definition, as with a death or a divorce. If you say, my husband died or my wife divorced me, a common response is “When did that happen?” This frame of time lends reality and eventually you begin to withdraw energy from this relationship that no longer exists.

The loss that is equally real, but for which there is no defined time to frame the grief, includes cognitive disorders such as dementia.

There is an excruciating agony in looking into a familiar face and seeing a stranger. How long does it take to not be stunned when a voice so familiar responds in anger rather than agreement? When do you stop expecting an embrace and accept the reality that your presence creates no interest?

Is there a way to have a memorial service for the loss of a dream, a hope or an expectation?

Can you release the relationship you once enjoyed and embrace a new one with someone who has the same picture ID but a different personality?

Maybe you start by saying “Goodbye” and then make a decision to say “Hello”. The hello acknowledges the new relationship. Maybe the hello can be marked by a date allowing the benefit of a time frame.

You probably won’t print an obituary or get a sympathy card. No one will send money for a memorial, but it is very precious to have a friend or two that will say, “I see, I care, and I’m here with you”.

And maybe somebody will like your blog.

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