The bereaved have a particular look about them. They look flushed of colour. All their facial expressions drain away. One day they’re happy go lucky and full of vim; the next they’re a mix of grey pastels on tainted dull canvas. Their ears droop in tune with their frown. They look tired and out of focus. Loss is evident across their face. Their words are spoken slower and they take longer to stand up. They don’t bounce around looking for coffee and they certainly don’t race home on their bicycles.
I never know how to act around them. Do I stay the same? No. Not at all. Things are no longer the same. Loss is not a gain. I show my empathy but it never feels enough. I don’t want to say too much, but I do want and try to show I care. It’s not easy. Nothing ever is. Their loss is a challenge. My challenge is simply to be there for them, in the littlest of tiny small kind of ways.
How do you cope with loss? How do you act when someone departs? How many tears are too few? Or, too many? Is silence the treatment? Does that kind of loss ever truly fade away? How long does it take to recover? How many words need speaking? How does memory remain? How can I not forget you?
The dead don’t care. Maybe they did, before they left. Maybe their spirits go to heaven, Elysium or into the clouds. I can’t say. I’m no expert on the afterlife. Maybe they do care now. Or do they live on in us? Perhaps they flutter between the molecules and matters that make life? Could they be the vacuum of space? Or compost bringing life from waste?
I don’t want to feel what they feel. I don’t want to act differently or awkwardly. I don’t want to ask too many questions. I don’t want to forget the dead.
May you all rest in peace.