For all of those she left behind.
When someone close to you dies, it hurts. It really hurts. There is a chasm (a void) in the middle of your life where that person is supposed to be. Everything frames their absence: the sunshine, the rain, a song, a laugh, an achievement in school, a book lying around the house, a smell…
The world feels like a different place. It all looks the same. People move about it as they always used to, but it is different. Someone is missing. People don’t collide with the absence left by that person, they walk right through it. Others cannot see it or feel it like you do and this is disorientating and frustrating and exhausting. How can they not know? How can they not see so much of her is still here?
Emotions feel raw, sensitive, bruised. You experience everything with intensity: anger, sadness, joy, loneliness, loss… Life hurts. You feel battered by it. Tired.
Others move on.
Time moves on.
Life moves on.
Dreams become a refuge and a torment. In your dreams she can live on, but at some point in the dream, or in the wakening, realisation hits all over again. She is gone. She is really gone. And another day awaits without her.
There are no words. There is no magic formula to take the pain away. There is no checklist to fast forward through. Loss can only be lived. It must be lived. There is no other way.
Absence isn’t black and white. It is not here then gone. There is so much presence in absence. In time this can bring comfort.
As the days go by and the pain shifts from a searing pain to a dull and steady ache, you will find your loved one is still here, just not sadly as you would want her to be. You will find her in the comforting hum of talk radio in the kitchen, in the smell of baking, in the delight of a beautifully written piece of prose or a well-constructed story. She is waiting to be found in the way the light changes the colour of the living room walls as it moves through the day and the heavy grey of rain laden clouds out the kitchen window.
You will find her in the value you put on good friends, in your determination to rise to a challenge and in the moments you realize you have driven everyone mad in your persistence to get something ‘just right’.
What will survive of us is love*
But, in loss, love takes on a colour and a texture, an intensity and a humdrum comfort we may never have noticed before.
For now, grieve, rage, cry in the shower, in the car, in the pantry with the flour. Curse the world. Talk. Sit in silence. Howl at the moon. There is someone missing and so sadly missed.
But know that void she has left behind is not empty. There is so much to be found when we explore that void.
* The Arundel Tomb – Philip Larkin