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Thoughts on loss

For the past month, I’ve been in a far away place. Most of the fun things I talk about and share here (makeup, cooking, recipes, and even biking) have been far, far from my mind. If I’d been writing during the past month, it might have been a three-part series called, “On Loss.”

  • Loss: Part 1 would have been about the loss of a long-term friendship which had been wandering off course for some time and which recently came to a painful end
  • Loss: Part 2 would have been about my best friend’s adult son, who committed suicide in a dramatic and thoughtfully planned way
  • Loss: Part 3 would have been about one of my dogs and her sudden passing from cancer

For a number of reasons, as the last month has unfolded, I did not write this three-part series. One reason is obvious and simple – my real life and real loved ones needed my attention. Another reason is because even if I had the time to write it, I didn’t have the peace of mind. When I sit down to write almost anything, it begins with a jumble of ideas that are at the very cusp of converging into some rational thought. I can’t sit down at the keyboard until there is some semblance of organization to the jumble – for me, putting words on the screen is when they go from being disjointed to cohesive. And lately, all of these thoughts on loss have been too disparate and raw and splotchy and mismatched to put my fingers to the keys. But the main reason I haven’t written this three-part series is because I just didn’t know how much I wanted to share.

It takes courage for a person to let others see their painful, messy side. I don’t often have that courage and keep the messy stuff to myself. When a situation is painful enough, I’ll let it show a while, but only to those I trust the most, and sometimes just long enough to get some support. Then I cover it meticulously and put it back inside. That way I can take it out and deal with it alone in my own time and on my own terms. But no matter how deliberately I turn away from that pain, it’s only ever a few steps away.  It can be held at bay to serve my convenience – to make it through a work day, perhaps – but nevertheless, it demands to be dealt with.

This month I have been overwhelmed by the courage of my best friend and her family as they have openly and willingly shared their pain. My friend’s dear son Taylor is gone and is never coming back, and in her circumstances I know I would have exposed that pain to a chosen few, just long enough to survive it, and then crawled back inside my shell to lick my wounds alone. Her approach has been the opposite – to totally reveal herself (mainly via social media) about her family’s loss, about her utter helplessness and emptiness, about the Taylor-shaped hole in her heart. Rather than taking a few steps away to deal with it privately, she prefers to open up and let others in. It is as Rumi says: “The wound is where the light enters.”

I cannot say how much I admire the bravery necessary to bare her soul in this way. And, I can’t begin to describe the outpouring of love and caring she has received in response. Even when she’s busy at work or occupying her mind with other things, I know her pain is only a few steps away – and, with the support of hundreds of connections, ties loosely made during 50 years of living, support too is always within reach.

Loss is vicious. Grief begs desperately for immediate relief, but no cure exists. Time helps, but not completely and never fast enough. All that’s left us is to patiently wait, putting one foot in front of another, mechanically functional, until we can arrive at a place where there is a new normal. Loss is near. Grief is near. But if you can bare it (and bear it) with others, support and love are also just a few steps away.

So having suffered a terrible time and learning new lessons about living more openly and sensitively, now I’m going back to putting one foot in front of another and moving on from what the past month has brought. Back to blogging, makeup, recipes, and the weightless fodder that brings me so much pleasure. And surely brighter skies and smoother roads, too, are just a few steps away.

In honor of my dear friend Ginny and her son, Taylor, please consider performing a random act of kindness, such as paying for the person next to you in the drive-through line or grocery store. Then share your story of kindness on the Paying Forward For Taylor Facebook group. These stories of kindness are both a way of remembering Taylor’s gentle, loving spirit, but also of sharing with Ginny and her family a moment of sweetness that has resulted from their recent tragedy. She and her family take solace in these stories. Thank you for paying it forward.

This article has 1 comment

  1. Din Milem

    Stephanie, that was very well spoken. You, along with Ginny and her family, have had a terrible month. Joni’s Dad has been gone for 36 years and I still think of the man and his death often. You are right; it’s one step in front of the other. There eventually is a “new normal” and much brighter days ahead.

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