Around the middle of December – and on awards shows throughout the year – various organizations solemnly share their list of prominent people who died in the previous twelve months. Often we forget about someone who died early in the year. We rate the list, using it to gauge just how bad a year it was. Some years the sense of loss is overwhelming. This has been one of those years, and not just for me.
My mother died in March, but I’m not alone in experiencing that kind of grief this year.
There was Peter’s father and Sandra’s mother. John’s mother and Sarah’s mother. Jackie’s father and Fred’s mother. Kathy’s cousin and mother both died within two weeks time.
My husband is fond of saying ‘we’re at that age’, and that’s not inaccurate, though there is no preferred age to handle the death of a parent. Not everyone I know who experienced such a loss is my age. After all, my daughter and Jackie’s son both lost a grandparent. Kathy’s grandchildren lost a great-grandmother.
A doctor asked me recently if I thought I needed to go to therapy to deal with my loss. I’ve been in therapy a few times and I’ve written six books about grief. I already know what the topics of conversation would be. But I told the doctor that what has helped me more than anything are those friends with whom I share this particular kind of grief.
We check in with each other via Facebook messages and texts. We mark each milestone – birthdays and holidays – that now feel empty. We share how we cope, how we grieve and at times, how we rage against the feeling that we’ve been cheated.
The ‘In Memoriam’ lists this year won’t include our parents, though all are worthy of such a public honor. They were people who went to work and raised their families. They sacrificed for those they loved, and loved unconditionally. By their example they will continue to guide us. And though it will be a difficult, sometimes lonely, holiday season, we’ll get through it. Because they would expect no less.
This is my last blog post of a year of extreme highs and lows, both personally and professionally. I look forward to 2019 and the surprises it will bring. So, I’ll be back here on New Year’s Day, with more to say about…well, you’ll see.
Until then, my wish for everyone reading this is an abundance of peace, joy and wonder during this holiday season and into the new year.