Loss is a wound, and a teacher.
A couple of years ago, I launched this site, and I named it “Story Revisioned,” reflecting the truth that all lives, all stories, go through revisions. Moving through life, we have many opportunities to change our personal stories. Some changes are of our choosing, some not. I’d experienced the ups and downs, revisions, in the past, and I thought I got it. I understood that life can hand you things you don’t see coming.
I wanted to explore that reality, and to build on it, in a positive way.
But in the past six months, I learned the lesson all over again, in a profound and painful way.
My life has been revised, once more. Not by me, but by tragedy. By loss.
When loss enters your life, the only thing you can know for sure is that there will be changes, many of which you can’t even begin to imagine at the beginning.
In my story, my loss is my son, dead at 30, by suicide, a risk I never anticipated. My husband and I, we live with our new reality. So much has changed, and none of it of our choosing.
I’ve known other losses, sure. My dad, grandparents, friends. Each one left a mark, memories, sadness. But those losses I could absorb.
This one…it feels like a black hole I keep falling into. Just when I think I’m coming to terms with it, I realize I’m really not, all over again. And yet, there is no choice. You can’t argue with death.
I write, talk about it, cry, look at photos, have normal conversations, work, do normal things. But through it all I know…and I can’t unknow this…life will never be ok again. Not like it was in the past. There’s a gaping hole I can’t fill, a wound I can’t heal, and it won’t be forgotten. There’s an Alex-shaped hole left in my heart.
Not that I want to forget. I don’t want to forget. I just want my son back.
That’s all. Just one miracle. Surely that’s not too much to ask?
When your world shatters, what do you do with all the bits and pieces, the shards so sharp they cut fast and deep? What do you do? How do you face routine? How do you put your days and nights back together?
I talk, out loud, to Alex. I reason everything out with him. What happened. Why. What we missed. Where he is now. How will I find him? I believe in an afterlife. I just don’t know how it works. Do we automatically connect with the people we’ve known and belonged to in this life?
I’ve read a lot about near-death experiences, thinking if I could get a sense of what that world looks like from those who’ve peered over into it, I could find some comfort…some assurance…”oh, this is what happens.”
I’ve found some of that. It seems pretty common that as someone is dying, family and friends from the other side come to welcome, or assist, or smooth the way for the person in their last moments. I think about that. Was Alex welcomed by family who had gone ahead? Will I see Alex again as I near death?
And is it death? Or is it really life, round two? Second act? Or maybe that world is the real life, and this is just the preview? I don’t know. I only know I’m waiting, and I’m not afraid when it’s my turn. Alex did that for me. Where my son is, I’m not afraid to follow. It should have been the other way around. But he raced ahead, so now he’s the one up in front. And I’m counting the days until I see him again.
But the here and now…that’s the struggle, isn’t it? To know what to do, how to live with loss? After loss? “Afterloss,” I’ve head this time called. It’s describes the space and the rest-of-my-life era I’m now in.
In Afterloss, I look for ways to remember my son, and ways to love better because of him. Losing him, so unexpectedly, and at such a young age, brought home to me the shortness of life as nothing had before. It drives me to fulfill my purpose, and to make the most of the time I have with those I love.
That’s really all I want now…to love better, to fulfil my purpose, and to honor and remember him in the process.
I’m re-committing to focusing on my personal mission, to feed the hungry, with food and with words. That requires coming back to this site, finishing the course I’m creating on finding life purpose, and looking at other venues to share my message…how everyone can create purpose for their life, and find joy and fulfillment.
My second commitment is to share my grief journey, what I’m learning and experiencing as I mourn my son, as I look for ways to bring good from his story. He did so many wonderful things in his life, and he touched so many people. He did his work then. I’m doing my work of remembering him now.
So my story is revised. I live in Afterloss. I can’t change the circumstances that put me here. But I can choose to hold on by focusing on love. None of this is easy, but it is necessary. It’s the only way to survive.
That’s really all I can do now.