Dear alumni/ae and friends,
Birth-life-death are part of the living of our lives. We are aware of this at various times and there is some comfort in knowing that despite of all the ways that we are different, this cycle of life is true for us all. And yes, although we know this, we are often caught up short with grieving when a loved one or someone who was a guiding light (even from afar) dies. Grieving is hard and often lonely work. It sucks energy and distracts us from the everyday things that may be necessary for us to do each day. And frankly, it hurts. The profound loss of a death is like no other loss I have ever experienced. The finality is jarring. The silenced voice is profound. The reality is that we can no longer wonder about a future with those who have left us, but we find ourselves wrapped with memories. The past, and what was, become intimate companions and we strain to hear the voice of those who have died—in our memory and in our hearts.
There are no words, no rote rules to practice helping us move through our grieving. We are dealing with profound loss and we each respond differently to the yawning absences of the person who has died. Many of us are now experiencing the death of someone due to COVID, due to pre-existing conditions such as cancers or diabetes, some are related to violence, some due to lack of adequate health care, some due to sudden and unexpected death. As I look back over the last two years—and even a few years before this—I have found myself wondering if loss and the challenge of learning how to go on living in the face of this loss is what I have to look forward to as I approach my ever-nearing older age. And yes, this is part of what I and all of us face, but I am reminded that another way to think about the pain of death is to live my life to its fullest right now and not delay. Doing so does not make the yearning lessen, but it does remind me that we, the living, have futures to live into. So, I remind myself of the image of trimming my lantern and preparing for the next day.