It can be easy to get caught up in the pain, anguish and regret of losing something you love or that has emotional attachment. I’ve long believed that losing jewellery meant it was time to let that connection go – I’ve lost rings in the surf, a bangle in a paddock, and an expensive earring overboard that I reluctantly watched sink slowly away. Maybe it was its time.
Loss of any kind causes a lot of mixed feelings for me, from self-blame to irrationally imagining life will never be the same. Right now I am going down the many side roads of losing things I cannot recover, including a friend on the eve of her birthday when I planned to visit; a partner and all the hopes and experiences I thought we would share; as well as a family member, who is also slowly losing his incredible talents and faculties like a fading favourite song.
Some days he is here and sometimes not, we cannot know and cannot change it, we can only take it as it comes and try to hold back the tears that confuse him.
Loss is teaching me acceptance and at times the lessons are brutal.
The only remedies I have for the overwhelm, denial, frustration and sadness are to sleep well, be present with my family and friends, talk about the spinning thoughts in my head, and to focus on the smallest of joys and mercies. I’ve looked through much-loved memories in frayed photo albums and pointed out the best moments to hopefully remind us of that day and that feeling.
I’ve played music that transports us back to a special event or shared day. I’ve started singing out loud more and hugging more tightly and being less worried about seeming silly or too sensitive. I’ve sat in a cupboard to play hide and seek – and just to hide. I have scrambled for the simplest words to explain to children what is happening when I hardly know myself and I’m mindful I’ve previously told them adults always know what to do next.
We have made favourite childhood meals, searched out scrappy old Christmas ornaments to reuse, and revisited places that once were regular haunts to rekindle that familiarity. I am reluctantly getting used to, slowly but carefully, letting myself feel upset or helpless. I am also struggling but striving to ask for help, space and forgiveness.
I know I’m not alone in this journey, but it takes real effort to reach out when that is often all you feel. Making that effort, it turns out, is one of the best gifts from loss that I’ve found.