Dealing with Loss

I don’t deal well with death, I never have. I’d like to blame my parents (what kid doesn’t?) since they went out of their way to shield me from having to deal with the traumatic effects of losing a loved one. Even when we had to put our dog to sleep my mother took her to the vet while we were in school. When we arrived home she simply stated that the family pet had gone on a trip to a wonderful place where she would never experience pain. That was a lovely thought and helped us overcome the fact that we would never see the dog again but it really didn’t do much to prepare me for when I had to deal with a loss first hand. As I’ve gotten older I have had my share of opportunities to be introduced to the effects of losing a loved one. Each time seems to be harder and harder to try and understand why death is necessary. I promised myself that when I became a father I would not make the same mistake my parents did. I would find a way to teach my children about how death was a natural progression and that we must at some point face the realization of our mortality. Granted that is a little deep for a child to understand and I knew I would need to find a way to explain it in terms that they could understand without resorting to the analogy that my mother used on me when I lost my first pet.

No one ever expects to have to deal with death or with a loss. It always seems to come at a time when you least expect it. Even when the person you love has suffered through a long and painful illness it still seems so sudden and final that you will never be able to see that person again and share in the memories you have in common. When you have a companion that you share everything with this becomes extremely difficult. You keep beating yourself up mentally as you begin to recognize how much you have taken that person for granted. Why didn’t you take the time to tell that person what they meant to you? Now that they are gone you don’t have that opportunity. Instead you are left with the emptiness knowing that you’ll never be able to converse with them or share in the experiences that you had together. It’s as if a piece of yourself has died along side of them.

For the first few days you walk around numb to your surroundings. You struggle trying to understand what has just happened. You’re mind is confused and you fully expect to see your loved one again. It is as if they are just on an extended vacation and at any moment they will come home and things will be the way they always have been. But the days come and go and you suddenly start to realize that they aren’t coming back. The numbness is replaced with anger. How could your loved one leave you here to fend for yourself? Why did you have to lose the one you loved? You want to find the person or persons responsible for your loss and extract restitution for your loss. If you are not careful the anger can turn to hate and can eat away at you. I’ve seen people who have lost a spouse or child to an accident at the hands of another and they become consumed but the thoughts of revenge. This usually drives me to the next emotion, fear. I worry that I might become one of the angry hateful people I have seen. I worry that I’m not strong enough to go on with life without the ones I love. I’m afraid of my own mortality and that I might be the next one to go. All of these thoughts lead one to a state of depression as you shrink farther and farther into the recesses of your own life. If all goes well, this state of depression takes you to a point of realization that while you have lost someone you loved they are never completely gone out of your life. You have the memories that you gained by being with them. Through your relationship you have become a better person. You realize that life goes on and while you will probably miss your loved one for as long as you live they will remain alive as long as you remember them. These are the stages of grief I have found in my life and although these stages are normally equated to the death of someone I love it is not always a person who triggers these emotions. Sometimes when you get so involved in something as simple as being a devoted fan you find yourself in these same stages. I don’t mean to trivialize death that is not my intent at all. This season in particular has been a struggle to deal with. I think part of it is the fact that it was taken away from me so suddenly. One moment I was enjoying myself and the companionship of the baseball season and the next moment it was over. I went through each of these phases described before. I am not yet to the point where I am at peace but it is slowly starting to heal. Maybe my mom was right. Maybe I just need to think that baseball has gone somewhere where you feel no pain. I think they call that Spring Training.

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