Living with loss of any kind is traumatic and can be sole destroying. I personally, like many people have suffered a number of losses in my life. But whether it be a favourite toy as a child, a pet, a memento, grandparent or someone closer such as a sibling or a partner the loss still affects us deeply. The hardest part is learning to live with the hole that is left, for there is such a feeling.

Whether we want to admit it or not we are all born to die. When we are young, we never consider that one day we will leave this earth, after all it is such a long time away. And yet as we reach the end of our lives, we begin to consider the forthcoming outcome; occasionally with some regrets and perhaps fear.

What we fail to do is consider the effect it will have on those we leave behind. After all it isn’t them suffering the end of our life.

And yet it is.

We often fail to realise how our loss will affect others or how much more it does them than us. Consider we are no longer here so cannot feel pain or suffering, if there is any.

The closer the lost loved one is to someone the harder it is to come to terms with their absence after they’ve gone. What makes it harder as an adult is if there are children involved. Not only do you have to cope with your sadness but also theirs.

My personal experiences have seen me lose grandparents, parents, two work colleagues, a husband and many close family relatives.

When my first set of grandparents died, I was a young teenage, really too immature to fully understand. And when I lost my other grandparents, I was a new young mother and was too embroiled in looking after my daughter for it to overly affect me. And yet, now at an age where I am fast approaching my own demise, I find I still miss them even though it’s been 50 years.

Losing two work colleagues was hard to come to terms with. They both died through horrific accidents. Two young men at the beginning of their life with everything to live for. The youngest was just 18 and had a talent for drawing which I was encouraging him to pursue. His loss hit me hard as I was with him close to the end. And when he asked me if he was going to die, I was stunned telling him he wouldn’t dare do that to me. Not exactly the right response but I was shocked and upset. To this day I still have them both with me.

The hardest death for me was the loss of my late husband. He suffered from a bad heart and ill health, and even though he had an operation it was unsuccessful. I knew I was a widow in the making two years before the event. It was maybe this which helped prepare me for the ultimate moment. Not that it made it any easier to bear.

Three weeks after his passing I sat in the large house we had shared and felt alone and lost. The phone rang. It was the police informing me that my late husbands’ cousin had been murdered coming home from the family allotment. He had been stabbed in the heart for refusing to surrender a simple carrier bag of home-grown vegetables. He was a gentle man, much like my late husband, a hard-working solicitor who cared for his mother. The police had rung so I wouldn’t see it on the news.

Then and only then did the loss of my husband really hit me.

Over the years, and despite just celebrating my 15th Wedding Anniversary to a wonderful man, I still cannot fully accept the gaps created by the loss of my late husband and all those people who are no longer part of my life. And yet I do – for life must go on. At least for me.

Each day you have to wake up, eat your breakfast, get washed and dressed and go out and do whatever it is you need to do to keep going. You face the daily challenges of life with stoicism and a strength you cannot believe you have. And why? Because it comes from knowing you will not let the memory of those are not here be besmirched by you wallowing in self-pity.

The way to cope is to remember their laughter, their smiles, the jokes, the arguments, the sulks, the making ups, and all the other little things that made your relationship something unique and special. For they were and still are a part of you. Their interaction has made you who and what you are today. Rejoice in what you had with them but go forward into a new life without ever forgetting them. In time the pain will ease.

Ann Brady c2020

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