The concept of loss is difficult to grasp. You would think that it would be a simple definition. If you’re looking it up in the dictionary, you have the definition all wrong. The dictionary states that the definition of “loss” is “something that is lost.” “Lost” is defined as something that is “no longer possessed.” When I first read these definitions, I’m not going to lie, I was upset. Because I, as all of you, have experienced loss. And loss is so much more than just losing something we once possessed.
When it comes to loved ones, loss is an unimaginable fear. And for so long, I’ve been afraid of losing my loved ones to death more than anything. Someone once mentioned to me, “how terrible is it to love something death can touch?” Since then, I see this quote everywhere. I see it on social media, and I see it intertwined within pieces of poetry. My fear of losing someone I love to the hands of death has only grown larger. I have watched my family members mourn death when my uncle and grandpa passed. I’ve seen my mom mourn her mother, brother and grandma during the holidays. I stood helplessly as I watched my best friend mourn a death that made me beg the Lord to take my life instead. That week the heavens gained an angel, but even the sky mourned his loss on earth, for it rained for weeks after his departure.… During these moments I mourned right next to my loved ones. I was devastated. But I didn’t feel the same kind of pain my dad felt when he lost his father, nor do I feel the same pain my mom feels when she remembers her mother and brother. I stood at the funeral and watched the man I have the privilege of calling my best friend, stand and give the most beautiful eulogy as his loved ones cried out in pain. While this broke my heart in places I didn’t even know existed, and as much pain I felt seeing someone I loved so much lose what he loves most in this world… I will never experience the depth of pain that loss has caused him.
And then you have the pain of losing someone amongst the living. Loving something that death can touch is terrifying. But how terrible is it to love somebody you can lose due to human imperfection? One cannot control death, but one can choose to leave forever. This can be just as painful or more so than losing someone to the hands of death, because you watch as the person you love choose to walk away… making you, and every word, moment, and promise you shared, dead to them. I’ve always believed that love is a mixture of feelings and choice. When feelings go away, as they often do, you choose to love that individual unconditionally. You choose to make things work. Feelings don’t go away forever, but in the moments that they do so happen to disappear, this is when we choose to love. Choose to love the flaws, choose to honor the commitments and promises made, and choose to rediscover why you chose to love that person. This isn’t easy, by any stretch of the imagination. But when does anything that’s worth something in life come easy?
It’s destructive. Love is a mental emotion. If we can even call love an emotion… as I recall, emotions are mental states of being, whereas love is all consuming. When one falls in love, they literally fall. There are many types of love. Love for a sibling or friend, love for a child or parent, love for a significant other, etc.… It doesn’t matter what kind of love you experience, you take the plunge. Traditionally, you hear about how you hit the cement only after your heart is broken, but this is not the case. You hit the cement as soon as you begin to love. I swear to God, hitting the cement leaves you vulnerable, because every piece of you shatters, like a piece of glass. You have shards in your heart, and stomach, and intertwined throughout your rib cage. But at the time you don’t notice it. You don’t notice it because you mistake those shards as butterflies in your stomach, and use love as the excuse as to why your heart aches when you miss them, or when you can’t breathe because they simply just take your breath away. How could you feel it anyway, when you’ve got this perfect human making promises that you’ll always be loved unconditionally as they swim through the darkest parts of you? When you thought those words only came from your diary, here you have the love of your life whispering them to you as you fall asleep wrapped in their arms. You tell the people you love information only God knows, and you feel safer when they know. Nothing else in the universe matters. But when they leave, you suddenly feel the collision with the ground. Not only that, you feel everything from the moment you jumped off the top of the building to the moment your blood paints the sidewalk. You find yourself hysterically crying out of nowhere when the uncontrollable waves of emotions suddenly hit you like a truck, and you find yourself on the side of the road or curled in a ball in a dark corner because it’s the only place that doesn’t suggest their presence. They destroyed every safe-haven in the most beautiful way imaginable, making those places the most dangerous. You’re stuck frantically trying to pick up the shards and piece them back together, but they don’t fit like they used to, because when you loved you gave away pieces of yourself that now belong to them, and fixing yourself becomes impossible. Their old tattered favorite t-shirt no longer works as a security blanket, like it once did when they were sleeping in it next to you. Nothing fixes the throbbing hollow cavities in your chest, and wrapping the t-shirt around you only digs deeper into them. You finally fall asleep only to wake up cold and alone with nothing but the taste of blood and their name intermingling in your mouth, as you continue to spit out the remnants that are still embedded inside of you from when you plummeted back to earth.
People say these things become easier in time, and that may be true for someone who’s never felt the sting of real loss. But to be honest, time just gives one the ability to figure out how to live through the pain.