By Landis Lain
No one is making it off of this rock alive. Recently, a couple of young men in my life have died. Their deaths were tragic accidents and an incredible blow to everyone who knew them. As I discussed them with my children and their peers it occurred to me that we are never taught how to grieve. We are taught how to drive, how to cook, how to dance. It now strikes me as weird that grief is something no one ever discusses until someone dies. That seems somehow just as tragic as the passing of a person we love.
In past years, we have had the funeral rituals of getting together and crying. Then the viewing and the funeral happen. For a few days, the family is surrounded by people, hugs, and care. Once the funeral chicken is consumed at the repast, everyone goes back tot heir regularly scheduled life. But for close family and friends of the deceased, there is a new normal.
Nothing will ever be the same and often there is no one to help navigate the grief, tears, happiness, or laughter of the next days without a loved one. Friends and family help. But I discovered a private comfort, a panacea for the continued pain.
When I was a young mom, a friend died from breast cancer. She left two children. And I resolved that my own children who were slightly younger that they would know that I thought of them and loved them everyday that I was alive, even if the worst happened. So, I started a journal for both children and resolved to write in it every day. Of course, that did not happen. Life intervened. But I did write in those journals. Not every day. Sometimes not even every week. But I wrote about big events and small events in their lives. I wrote about their triumphs and when they lost teeth. I tried to write in big letters and made certain they could read my handwriting. I kept an account of the lives of my children. I gave then the journals when they graduated from college. My son read his and thought it was cool. He gave it back and told me to keep writing in it, so I did, until he had a baby of his own. Then I gave it back to him and he put it in his safe to as a cherished keepsake. My daughter keeps the book someplace safe for herself.
Sometimes the words are hard to come by Sometimes they flow like a raging river of emotion. But at least my children have a record of my love, that they can take out later and look at. They can read how proud I was of them. They can take comfort that I thought of them always and in every little way. It will not take the grief away but perhaps help to navigate the circle of life.