I want to scream. Those words are beginning to deeply irritate me. They seem so completely bizarre at the time of someone’s death.
My beloved Nan died very recently and I have had so many messages, all of them wonderfully caring of course, but so many begin with “I’m sorry for your loss.”
And I want to yell, loud enough to make my lungs burst.
I haven’t “lost” her. I didn’t put her down somewhere like a worn necklace and forget where she is.
I can’t go hunting for her and eventually find her where I left her. She’s not someone I’ve mislaid, forgotten about. I’ve not lost her, she is gone.
She is gone.
Loss is such an inadequate word. And at a time where I am grieving for someone so utterly precious, it seems so trite and incomplete to use that expression. Like I’ve somehow been terribly careless.
But how else do you express the grief that gnaws at you silently? The grief which creeps up on you like an invisible powerful wave and hits you with a force that actually momentarily stops you breathing? A grief which descends like a dark and heavy sky without warning and makes you sob uncontrollably?
What AM I feeling? What is the sensation? The emotion?
I am weeping for the memories; the blissful days spent with her at the seaside, eating rock, jumping the waves, building sandcastles.
I am in pain that I will never again get to chat to her, laugh with her, and listen to her opinions.
I am yearning for one last chance to hold her hand and tell her how much I love her, laughing at her jokes and watching her sing “I’ll be seeing you in Apple blossom time.”
I miss her silliness, her absolute pride in her family, her voice, her laughter.
I am mourning the fact her adored great grandchildren will no longer get to sit on her knee and giggle with her, they can no longer be wrapped in her arms as she holds them close and tells them they are loved.
And the pain is immense, overwhelming, and cuts extraordinarily deep.
It’s a physical pain. It resides in my chest. It won’t lift. I can’t escape it.
And something dawns on me.
I realise what I am feeling is indeed, loss.
A sense of profound loss. Of what has gone before and what might have been.
Loss of her presence, loss of her energy, her humour, her giggles, her singing. I’ve lost her, in every way she is gone and the feeling is deep, unrelenting and profound loss.
Those words “I’m sorry for your loss” still irritate me, they still seem so utterly incomplete.
But I have indeed lost her, and all she was.
The emptiness which feels like the darkest and deepest well is filled only with loss.
It is the right word after all.
Lead image by Annabel Beeforth