Very rarely does a certain topic or issue bother me. Ok I take that back, it does bother me but very rarely do I find the time or the energy to voice it. Being non-confrontational in general, it works perfectly. Then there are times, very seldom, that I come across a certain incident or experience that plays non-stop in my mind and I know I have to speak about it.
Recently I started to notice how we find it immensely difficult and unpleasant to speak about a very real and existent topic – loss and death. I am compelled to speak up now, because this is unfortunately a natural occurrence that we as CARER deal with, when working with cancer. I am amazed how the people around me look away or conveniently change the conversation when I bring it up. The topic is changed swiftly, when instead it needs to be spoken about. I witness this amongst my own friends and family, where I am suddenly interrupted by “lighter, happier” things to talk about.
Maybe I have seen death and experienced loss up close and personal so many times, that it’s not a big issue for me to discuss, or maybe, it’s the conversation around it, which has been securely concealed under the carpet for so long, it makes everyone else uncomfortable. So let’s discuss it. Over here is when half the readers, if not majority will stop reading this. But the few who do, need to take it upon them to pay if forward. I speak mainly (not solely) to the people who have experienced loss. I would like to share my perspective on it and maybe that can change the way you view it going forward. Which I hope will then open up channels of communication about the topic and how you speak about it to others and to yourself.
If you have experienced loss, then we have invariably secured a connection that is indescribable. I might not know you or ever see you, but if we speak, we will connect on a level that only you and I will understand. That’s what loss does to people. It builds a human connection with others who have walked the same path as you, without ever knowing you. I say this because the “void” that we frequently refer to when we speak about loss, is something that only you and I can truly understand. This void is very real and true for each one of us. The best way to describe it is emptiness. The worst way to deal with it, is to try to fulfil that emptiness with something else or ignore it altogether.
So this is my take. The void of a loved one cannot and should not be filled, but instead acknowledged and respected for what it is. The void is nothing but the departure of a fulfilled experience of a person that you loved. His or her presence was obviously something you cherished and when that doesn’t exist anymore, you then feel that too, in the presence of a void. When we seep into the sorrow of that feeling, it brings on sadness, helplessness, no sense of purpose and depression at times and that’s where the problem lies.
All very natural emotions but also very misleading as well, because the entire concept of loss is perceived with a negative connotation. I am not saying that loss should be a good feeling, but why should it be bad? and even if it is bad, why is the bad feeling, bad to feel? What I am trying to say is that our emotions are driven by our thoughts and our thoughts are given its meaning with the understanding or perception we have around that thought.
Death, loss, dying are supposedly morbid words. But are they really? Or is it just the most natural phenomenon of human evolution? The key over here is perspective, not trying make a negative feeling, positive, but instead regarding it as a negative feeling that has been given its due because of the perception you have around it.
Celebrate the void. It’s your loved one leaving a mark in your life. You have to retain space for him or her and that will and should always be there. This celebration can be of acknowledging the loss and fully experiencing the feeling of void that comes along with it, but feel the feeling and understand why it’s there. In time, I promise you will feel it for what it truly is and this I hope will encourage you to speak out and speak up about death, dying and loss in a way that’s never been spoken, ever.