Loss of Loved Ones

At some point in our life, most of us have experienced the loss of someone that we cared about. It’s not an easy process to go through without having honest and true friends around you. Whether it’s the loss of a parent, a sibling, a good friend, or a dear pet that you love — it’s not any easier to let them go. Several years ago, my sister was diagnosed with lung cancer and heart disease and was in and out of hospitals for care. To my surprise, her cancer disappeared, and she was able to retire and start living her life to the fullest. Soon afterward, another monster entered the scene which caused more havoc on the family. It was called dementia. Dementia is a disease that we should all learn about, regardless of our age.

In the past couple of weeks, I lost my sister to all the illnesses she had been fighting. The most difficult part was watching my nephew, her son, struggle to come to grips with losing his mother. For some reason, losing one’s mother can be more difficult than losing one’s father who may not have been around a lot while the children were growing up because of work obligations or commitments. Regardless of how sick a person may be, children and friends want them to stay around. I have watched my nephew swing through a variety of emotions that include anger, sadness, depression, and relief. The grieving process is extremely essential to understanding and accepting the death of a loved one.

When I was a young boy, my parents and the many aunts and uncles taught us children a different story about death that they would share with us, sometimes too often. My mother taught us to live our lives to the fullest, to go after all our dreams, and most importantly, to be kind to strangers along the way. She always looked forward to death and taught us to welcome it when the time comes. Being exhausted from dealing with various illnesses, my mother prepared me to let go when she was ready to depart. After taking care of her for a couple of years, laughing and enjoying fun times, she pulled me aside and said, I will be ready in two weeks. I can still remember feeling and looking sad, but she always made me laugh. I can still hear her saying to me, “Honey, I am tired, but you look worse than me, you need a break.” We laughed so hard that tears ran down both of our legs.

After losing that special one, there is a process called bereavement. Bereavement is the grief and mourning experience following the death of someone important to you. While it’s an inevitable part of life — something that virtually all of us go through at some point — losing someone you love can be one of the most painful experiences you’ll ever have to endure. Even when we know that someone may be dying, it doesn’t make the acceptance any easier to deal with at all. There are usually 7 stages of grief that most people must deal with to move forward. Those stages include:

  1. Shock. Feelings of shock are unavoidable in almost every situation, even when feeling or knowing that we had time to prepare for the loss of a loved one. Often there is a sense of numbness or a detachment from our true feelings.

The one thing about losing friends and family members that you love is the great memories that you keep in your heart forever. The sweet thoughts always make me smile, and cry but most often laugh out loud. There is nothing so great as savouring wonderful memories of someone that you shared many meals with, lots of laughter, danced together, shared a bottle of Ouzo on a park bench, or simply enjoyed teasing each other and misbehaving together. This time around, I have been asking myself how I will be remembered when I go on my passage and if I truly made a difference and showed kindness to many. These thoughts help me to focus more clearly on my life. I have even considered writing my obituary. No one knows me better than I know myself. The best part would be getting others to share what they remember the most. It should be a celebration of life.

Have you experienced the loss of a loved one? What was it like for you and what happy thoughts remind you of them?

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Mikael Wagner is a communications project manager with focus on health promotion, public relations , marketing and focus group facilitation.

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Mikael Wagner

Mikael Wagner is a communications project manager with focus on health promotion, public relations , marketing and focus group facilitation.