At my favorite place, the grocery store, I met a woman whose son died in her arms. The story is tragic but beautiful. In his late 20’s her son began feeling tired but thought it was just “life.” He was only 20 after all. How could he be sick? Turns out it wasn’t just “life” and nine months later on a quiet evening in her home, her son died in her arms. She said it was a peaceful experience and at that precise moment of death, a sense of spirituality pervaded the room. She felt a heightened sense of awareness and a flood of memories ran through her brain. She also felt a deep indescribable feeling of love. I’ve never heard anyone talking about the experience being anything more than moving and always peaceful.
It’s been 4 years and she said it still felt like yesterday. Her son loved oatmeal and whenever she got to that part of the grocery store, she stopped and remembered him. That’s where we met – over GF oatmeal.
She asked me about my kids and I told her of my upcoming life change. She smiled and reminded me that life is a series of grief experiences which bring us to a new place of joy, love and peacefulness. She said that some people like to talk about grief in stages but that her “stages” looked like the scribbling by a child on a piece of paper — all over the place and with no rhyme or reason! I appreciated her being candid. I shared with her my own up and downs as I move closer to the boys leaving.
Before our good-byes she said a few things – which I hope my memory can do justice to:
- There is no magical way of dealing with change. You’ll have a range of emotions – appreciate each one. Some people bounce back quickly – some do not. There is no right or wrong.
- There is no “getting back to normal.” It will never happen. You’ll always feel pain from saying good-bye – whatever the reason for the good-bye. If you didn’t feel bad, that would mean you didn’t have love for that person. And love is the best reason to experience pain.
- You’re not expected to be perfect. This process builds character and each life experience makes us unique.
- When you decide it’s time to heal, then you will be ready to find peace from the change. Don’t let others rush you.
I never did get the GF oatmeal I was looking for. But I did get a hug (and got to hug) a stranger in a grocery store. And, I met yet another wise person whose life experience is reminder that we’re all going through the same life stages – just at different times and in different ways.
We’re all here to help one another through these life stages – whether by a stranger or a friend. And, it really doesn’t get better than that.
Have an amazing week!