“It doesn’t matter how much I heal or how much emotional processing I go through or how much I pray or go to therapy, whatever, he’s still gone.” Said the young man whose older brother died eight years ago.
I can relate to those words on so many levels. They’re pretty straightforward, but I’ve found myself meditating on them. In some corner of my mind I recognize there is a nuance that is not so straightforward but is profoundly important.
And here it is hiding within these three words, “. . . he’s still gone.”
“He’s still gone.”
I have spent the last three years processing my emotions in the aftermath of the collision that killed two of my daughters. Those losses piggybacked onto the loss of my son almost 25 years ago. And then they were interwoven with the knowledge that my 21 year old daughter, my only surviving child, was born with a rare genetic degenerative neuromuscular disease. Believe me when I say that I’ve processed emotions.
I’ve prayed. Prayers of anger and despair. Questing prayers. Begging entreaties. Oh yes, I’ve prayed.
I’ve even tried trauma therapy and grief counseling.
I’ve tried finding meaning in some global purpose. Painted on a positive outlook. Whatever.
And they’re still gone.
Do we somehow, unconsciously assume that emotional processing, therapy, and prayer will change that unacceptable truth? Do we think it will fill the gaping holes left in our hearts when our children die? Do we think that grieving will make the loss of our loved ones okay in time?
And maybe that’s why “they’re still gone” echoes so hollowly through my heart and mind. Maybe I am living with the unrealistic expectation that at some point “they’re still gone” won’t hurt anymore. Is that the goal of grieving?
What expectation should I have? What will healing look like? Feel like? Is it even possible? And maybe that’s why his words, “he’s still gone” communicate a straightforward fact but if you really let them sink into your soul they communicate so much more. Resignation, sorrow, despair, and feelings far to deep to articulate.
He’s still gone.
She’s still gone.
They’re still gone.
And maybe that’s why I’m stuck. Why I can’t move forward or get better – whatever it is that society expects of me.
No matter what I do, my personal reality is that they’re still gone. Until the end of my days they will be missing from me. Maybe there are some wounds that sink so deep into an individual that they can never be healed this side of heaven. And unless I make peace with the immeasurable worth of an eternal future (not just acknowledge it-not just understand it-not just hope for it) and even if I do make peace with eternity, the wounds I have sustained will never fully heal. They will always hurt because they’re still gone.
Never will I be whole again.
Never will it stop hurting.
Never will I be okay with their absence.
It echoes and echoes and echoes through me. Those words hold an unquantifiable depth of meaning and they leave my heart torn and bleeding.