This post is by guest author, Susan Schoenbeck, MSN, RN. Today she talks about the space where we deal with loss and how to moderate it.
I met Susan through the NW Association of Death Education and Bereavement in 2014. Her writings are full of gentle grace and wisdom. Please enjoy her thoughts on The Space.
Everybody must go there. No way around it. I stuck my toe in it and immediately pulled my foot back in recoil. Nope, don’t want to go there.
The space. Some of us just visit. We look in. Others get stuck in the space.
We find the space when experiencing life-altering change. Or watch our loved one face aging, illness, or death. Bone fractures. A slight gimp in the knee. Cataracts. Infections our immune system can’t fight.
The space awaits when our partner leaves us for another, or declines, or heads over to eternity. Siblings and friends die. Or our beloved pet dies.
We’re even confronted with the space when sending a sympathy card to a friend who has lost his wife. But we cannot choose which card to buy. There is no card that says what we are feeling. “Deepest sympathy”: What does that mean?
The space: losses, grief, unalterable events taking our life down unexpected roads.
Certain people only experience the space a few times in their life. Many others suffer a lot.
I’ve watched people in the space. And observed people at the edge. Some look very old and tired. Others just seem unhappy with their circumstances…how life has changed for them.
As they approach the space, some just look in. Others fall headlong.
Some people shuffle. Some people stumble. Some people fall. It can happen in all different sorts of ways. The brain can get less tidy in its maneuvering. And maybe your gait slows and you require more rest periods. Often your tongue can’t keep up as fast as your thoughts; you blither along.
Many people see the space approaching. Of course, there are those who have no idea it’s coming – until they’re right in it. Maybe that’s a blessing. Or maybe not.
When my friend entered the space…
My friend found his turning point last month when a driver ran a red light and hit his car. Want to know what that does to your insides?
Meanwhile, everyone said he was “lucky.” He didn’t feel really lucky. His back hurt like h.ll. He lost vision in one eye. A clot traveled to an artery in his eye when his head shook back and forth, jolted by the impact. He won’t get his eyesight back.
My friend has had many medical tests. Eventually, the costs will be billed to the other driver. So, that’s good you think. But, in reality, it’s not. Because the internal and external examinations revealed things a person might not want to know. My friend has discovered he’s stepped into the space. His body is not getting better with age.
The space can be moderated…
You can do some things in the space that make it a kindlier place to be.
- Talk about how it feels to be in the space. Studies have shown that talking about your feelings helps you walk through the space more happily. Putting your feelings into words can reduce uncertainty.
- Make decisions in advance. No one escapes this life unscathed. So don’t wait and leave others to make decisions for you. Start the dialogue with family and loved ones. Discuss what you want when it’s your turn to go gently through the space.
- Talk with those you trust about what you believe, what you fear, and what essential acts you need for making the space the way you’ll want it to be. Establish what happens in the space. After all, it is your space. Take command of it.
- And ask your loved ones about their wishes. Talk with family and loved ones about what might help them go gently through the space. Being with someone in the space gives you a choice – whether to help or not. Entering the space to assist reveals your inner character. Not helping someone defines you also. And, the role you assume will be part of you forever.
Finally, let the conversations begin now. Yes, yoour brain will tumble and turn. But, your heart will find immeasurable joy in controlling how you want to step into the space.
By Susan L. Schoenbeck, MSN, RN
Susan is the author of The Final Entrance, Good Grief: Daily Meditations, Zen & the Art of Nursing, Near-Death Experiences: Visits to the Other Side, and Heaven and Angels (2019). You can find her books on Amazon
Love all around, above, below, to the left and to the right, before you and behind you,