Loss is one of the few things in life you don’t become desensitized to with repeat exposure.
When you lay in the sun day after day, you develop a tan – your body’s natural resistance to the sun’s rays. (And skin cancer, of course, but that’s another story.)
When you tweeze your eyebrows continuously, seeking that perfect arch – eventually you stop wincing. The pain becomes a memory and you can do it without thinking.
But loss… loss doesn’t get any easier. In fact, the more often you face loss, death, and despair, the harder it becomes to deal with it. It compounds, it concentrates, and it grows heavier on your soul.
A close friend of mine has experienced a lot of loss recently. Mother, aunt, and beloved pet – all in the span of ten weeks.
I’ve experienced my share of loss: my maternal great-grandmother and paternal grandfather died just a few months apart when I was in high school. In 2006, I lost my father to a ten month battle with kidney cancer. Last year, one of my closest friends was killed in a motorcycle accident.
It doesn’t get easier. It intensifies, multiplies, and heightens.
I would have thought I’d be better at offering solace to my friend, given how much grief I’ve faced myself in the last few years. I thought I would be able to offer all the right words – you know, considering I’m a writer and all.
But I can’t. I’m not good at it. I don’t think anyone really is.
I say I’m sorry.
I say it sucks.
I say I will do anything and everything I can to make life easier. But really… what can I do?
Grief imprisons you. Weakens you. Humiliates you. Depresses you. Suffocates you.
Seeing my friend suffer has made the memories of my own suffering fresh again – I can almost taste the bitterness in the back of my throat, the cloying brackish flavor of tears and pain.
I feel like a bad friend. I feel helpless – all I want to do is take the pain away and, instead, I’m revisiting my own.
Loss is not a scar – it’s a gaping hole that can’t be filled, a necessary organ removed without warning. Loss doesn’t get easier – we just learn to compartmentalize it better. All I want to do is make my friend feel better, but the best I can hope for is numb.
Hoping for a happier tomorrow,
~ Victoria Elizabeth