(Liza, 25, Boulder)
Today marks ten years since my dear friend’s brother passed from this world to another. His brother’s death was a combination of gang involvement, drug use and finally suicide. Many questions remain unanswered, as he did not leave a note or any indication of his intentions… My friend found his brother’s body and is reminded of this salient event on a near-daily basis, through the dream realm. He wakes, in a sweaty panic, with ten-year old images fresh in his mind, as if they had occurred that very morning. This points to the fact that whether loss occurred one day ago, one week ago, or even a decade ago, the feelings associated with loss remain with us much longer.
In fact, I believe it a misnomer to believe they ever leave us. How then, do we come to peace with loss? I believe it is through collaborative efforts, such those offered up by another treasured friend of mine, the creator of this blog – Katherine Conway. I am ever appreciative of her willingness to talk about loss, a topic our society attempts to conceal, and the courage she fosters to do so. But what tactics are available to those who cannot write legibly (such as my friend)? In attending a beautiful memorial this weekend for a close friend of my Mother’s who I had the profound opportunity to know in the living world, I realized an important aspect of handling grief that is only temporally available to the members of our society. That is, the expressions of grief through speech, or bringing voice to one’s experiences that are not always easy (or possible) to work into written form. Through memorials, one is given the opportunity to do so, but then who can one talk with about feelings of loss, especially traumatic ones, that persist through time? For my friend, his family cannot bear to listen to his ongoing dealings with the loss of his brother. They do not dream of him on a nightly basis. Then, I ask myself, why not extend the memorial process to one, which is formed on a supportive community?
For my friend, I listen, I weep for him when he cannot, when I see the tears trembling in the backs of his eyes. This is what I want to highlight in this post — the ways in which we can foster a supportive sense of community for those who deal with loss, as we all do, but who are unable to use a computer or read beyond an elementary level, and for whom writing is a source of embarrassment, not release. I have no unifying answer, as I know only what I have experienced with my friend who I feel fortunate to have been given the opportunity to share his experience of loss with. I do know, as a society we are in crucial need of more cathartic expressions of grief. Instead of silently drying tears in response to the words of those speaking on behalf of loss, let us cry audibly and without reservation. Let us bring our children to memorials, so that loss is not such a foreign thing to them as they come of age in this world. And please, for God’s sake, let us not sit passively during this process, but jump, fall to the ground, and shout our thanks to God for the life s/he shared with us.