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The Echo of Sorrow

You take your last breath with your loved one being here.  And suddenly, unexpectedly, they’re gone.  And with your very next breath, your life has changed, never, never to be the same.  Ripped from your life without your permission.  Gone.  Never to hold them, smell them, hear their voice for real, again, in this life.  You feel brutalized. Violated.  Savagely torn apart.  Like some evil, larger force has literally reached down, into your world, jerked you off this planet, and ripped you limb from fucking limb.  

Suddenly, in the blink of an eye, you and the rest of your family are dumped on this new planet where other grievers live.  It’s like the war movies like Saving Private Ryan, where the soldiers land on the beach under heavy barrage of fire with bombs exploding all around them.  And you see them, walking around like zombies, shell-shocked, aimlessly looking for their severed limbs.  Some holding arms, some holding legs, bleeding out.  Looking for their arm that got ripped off or their heart that got viciously ripped from their chest and you see all of them.  Some looking for legs, some looking for arms but all of them stumbling around with gigantic, cavernous holes in the middle of their chest where their hearts used to be; should be.  It’s chaos on this planet, when the new inhabitants arrive here.  It’s truly horrific to see.  Their arrival is accompanied by the sounds of shrieking and screaming and sobbing, and crying out, No No No No!  Why has this death not killed me?  How can I still be alive after this?  This is not something anyone should ever have to witness, this wild edge of sorrow.

We look around, confused.  How did this happen? I don’t understand.  We are numb, in shock.   Our movements have slowed down.  Our speech has slowed down, if in fact, we can speak at all.  We have a dazed look on our face.  We can’t stand for people to ask us any questions because that requires us to have to think of an answer.  But that is all too exhausting.  

That’s the planet we are all forced to live on now, this planet without our beloveds.  Here’s the thing with this planet: It looks like Earth.  It smells like earth.  It even sounds the same. “They” did a good job with this new planet but it’s not. quite. right.  There’s something crucial that’s missing.  Something “they” couldn’t replicate.  Because you see, there’s a presence we will not feel, there’s a voice and a laugh we will not hear, and a physical relationship we will not have that’s missing on this new planet.  And the worst part is, for all of us new inhabitants of this new world, we can look across the expanse of space and time and see our old earth.  Our old life. We can see it in the distance but no matter how hard we try, or how hard we pray or beg or plead or get down on our knees and gnash the ground, there is no way back.  There is no transport off this planet, back to our old home.  This death that has dumped us here is strictly a one-way passage.  

Do you see us?  I  know you think you are still with us, on this planet, but you’re not.  What you are seeing is the essence of who we once were; a mist of electrons that are still hanging in space.  You are interacting with us through the ether, because you see, we are not really here on your planet anymore.  We are interacting with you from a great distance.  To you, we seem very close, but to us, you are very far away.  

Do we look the same to you?  I can assure you, we are not the same.  You may see someone with brown hair or blonde hair, but if you could see us on the inside, we have gone grey and our faces are lined with the ravages of grief.  Our bodies are stooped over with the weight of longing and yearning for our loved ones.  We have aged 30 years. What you see on the outside is a mask; a facade.  When you leave our presence, the facade crumbles and we can let down our guard.  Do you understand we are living a double life?  One life of pretending, one life of mourning.  Do you think grief and mourning ends?  I’m sorry to tell you it doesn’t.  It’s not like the movies or TV.  Does a year seem like a long time to you?  To those of us in grief, the death happened a month ago.  Grief time is different for us. When you see us on the street and you realize it’s been a year since we lost our loved one, know that we are still devastated.  We still cry multiple times a day.  We still cry out in agony, “How can this be true?”  “I can’t fucking believe it!”

When you see us, know that we are fragile.  The wrong word or look can devastate us.  Above all, save your platitudes.  All you need to say is that you are thinking of us.  That you are sending us love.  Don’t overthink it and don’t try and think of something profound.  More often than not, your words inadvertently hurt us.  And, if we leash out in what seems like anger to you, know it’s not anger, but deep, intense pain.  For, you see, anger is pain’s bodyguard. It’s hard to know what to say to someone in grief unless you have been there.  It’s like a second language that only the bereaved understand.  

We look across the expanse of space and time, to our old home, and we get lost in the reverie of the past.  Our hearts ache for what was; what could have been, what should have been.  How unfair this fucking life is.  How can such pain be possible?  Grief never ends.  We don’t want it to end.  That’s something you might not have realized.  You learn to carry the pain in one hand, and your new life in the other.  Until….until…..that blessed moment, when you see your beloved come around the corner, and suddenly you see each other, and you run, run, run into the arms of the other and you tell them, “I’m never letting you go again.”

The death of a loved one doesn’t kill you, even though at times, you’re certain it will, and most of time you wish it would.

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