Rodric writes about his life. Usually, his life stories include his faith in Christ and his love for religion.
This article is personal in nature because I am sharing a vivid and raw part of my life with strangers and friends. Grief and bereavement seem to follow me, in some sort, for the last eight years. In 2010, I lost my one-year-old daughter. I saw her born. I saw her body after the spirit left. That is an unnatural thing for parents to experience. It is hard when anyone loses a loved one. It is a different level of grief when parents lose a child, which goes against the natural order of things. Losing Mother was different. She was here when I arrived on the planet. There has never life existed without her, until now.
In this article grief and loss receive attention--how it is okay that we process them very individualistically.
Mother was like God. She has always existed.
Catherine Bazin Oliver
Skepticism of Life
As a skeptic, I have always harbored a healthy dose of doubt--if such a thing can be healthy. What grieving person does not long to hear the words that a loved one is safe in a heaven somewhere or waiting in the afterlife to welcome him or her when his or her time comes. Skepticism has led me strongly forward in the face of much proof. What did I doubt? Death. Death is what I doubted.
I did not know that death was possible until Mother died July 11, 2018, a Wednesday morning between 10 am and 10:30 am. I know, it sounds so foolish to read that. My Uncle Charles and cousin Charlton died when I was 12. My grandmother died when I was 13. My Cousin JL died when I was 14. My good friend Bebe died when I was 18. The list goes on of loved ones I have lost giving me proof that lives exist and then extinguish. Death has a way of giving a different experience each time it happens to us, to me.
Mother was like God. She has always existed. With her life, I knew the continuity of life even if all other people around me died. It sounds absurd to think about when so many people lose their mothers. It was not a rational belief. Mother is life until she was not. How could life continue when Mother is not actively in it--physically experiencing it somewhere? She does not have to be near me. Knowing that I could call her or see her was enough for me to hope for another tomorrow.
I spent most of my adult life trying to get away from her. I wanted so much to have a separation from her. Now, there is no physical way to contact her anymore. The separation is utterly guaranteed. My life is not taken for granted anymore. My wife can die! She is a mother also. Life is truly precious.
I no longer doubt that I can die. I know it is an inevitability and not just a possibility.
Even if heaven to some is the memory of our loved ones, it is still a place in our minds.
The Reality of Death
As a person of faith, I understand that death exists and hope in the reality of a reuniting with my loved ones in the eternal realms. My skepticism never overshadows my knowledge that God lives and has a plan for each of the billions of people who live, have lived, and will yet live. It has become so prevalent in society to be heroic in doubt. There is nothing heroic in doubt. Anyone can doubt and lose hope. It is easy. It comes so naturally. When faith endures in hope that life does end in the physical death but continues in the spiritual, it takes courage.
Even if heaven to some is the memory of our loved ones, it is still a place in our minds. I do not doubt that death is real anymore. I know it is. I have seen it too many times. My experience has given too much proof to refute.
Other things, impressions, feelings, and sacred experiences solidify the reality of death. Other things prove to me that in death, those people are still alive--not just in my heart or memory. Grieving is not about letting go of hope in life after death or the truth of another plane of existence. It is about letting go of the hurt and sadness because we will no longer have daily interactions. We have to find other ways to fill our time when our loved ones leave.
Death means separation. The spirit separating from the body. Us separating from loved ones. It means the end of one phase of existence and the beginning of another phase. It means that no matter what we believe or what religion we practice it is our great equalizer.
I miss Mother. This time, however, I cannot call her up and expect an answer.
There is no specific amount of time that we need to grieve that will count as enough.
Stay With Me
As a teenager, I saw the video "On the Way Home" by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is dated of course, but the message in the video sent chills down my spine as I watched it. It is about hope and comfort in the midst of loss through faith.
Now, I would love all of you to seek out missionaries from my church and listen to the message they have about life and death. It is a beautiful belief system. I know that during times of loss, it is important to turn to our beliefs whatever they may be to get some perspective. My beliefs shelter me from an otherwise bleak existence. Most people believe in a supreme being. Why not seek after that being when we hurt the most of a loss? This song below spoke to my heart from the video I mentioned.
The pain will eventually go away, but it will, like an old relative, come to visit every so often.
The lyrics are powerful. The chorus, a portion of it is:
Stay with me. Just until my heart recovers.
Stay with me. It's a lonely thing to suffer.
No matter what our faith is, having someone to mourn with us and watch over us whether it is God, the priest, or a memory is a powerful way to accept the separation that death brings emotionally. There are common threads the binds us together in humanity as we grieve. Grief, however, is an individual thing that we experience in a personal and sacred time.
There is no specific amount of time that we need to grieve that will count as enough. People who suggest otherwise are those who have not grieved a loved one or misunderstand people being that all people are not carbon copies of each other. Some of us will take years to shed a tear. Others of us will cry every day for years. Others of us will adjust to the death of a loved one in days and weeks. It is highly individualistic.
Mother slipped quietly into the afterlife in her sleep surrounded by family. That gives me comfort. I have no idea what she went through or if it hurt. Believing that she did not suffer makes me have peace in her parting. She was only with me for three weeks before she was called out of this life. I am glad to have been with her. This is how I am dealing with her death. I am writing about it and posting pictures and video. We will all find a healthy way to express our grief if we seek to heal.
The pain will eventually go away, but it will, like an old relative, come to visit every so often. It is a part of who we are once it is experienced. We can embrace it little by little over time. It is healthy to embrace it.
© 2018 Rodric Anthony Johnson