With the help of friends, I’ve been working on a logo for the Living with Loss project. We are still fine-tuning it, but the general idea is a tree, blown in the wind, with leaves falling. The tree’s roots are also visible, representing how being rooted in love and faith (for those who embrace faith) enables us to keep standing even through the winds of life.
But the important part is the leaves dropping, being blown off, and we stand there as a tree denuded of its green growth.
The focus of the picture is on ourselves, the bereaved, and our life in the here and now – our life with loss – as that’s the focus of my Living with Loss projects.
The leaves are missing.
Our loved one(s) are missing.
And we miss them.
I miss my children when I wake up in the morning. I miss my daughter’s morning calls, the “hello mum” while she sat in her kitchen in her own home, coffee and cigarette in hand. I miss what was, and I miss what might have been.
I talk with other bereaved people and hear what they are missing. The companionship of a lifelong partner. The empty nest of a bereaved parent. The friendship of a brother or sister.
They say that some of those who lose a limb experience phantom sensations, as though the limb is still intact. We bereaved have those feelings too.
In the windy, snowy weather the other day, a young woman appeared at the front door, well wrapped in a coat with a hood, protecting herself from the biting cold. Through the patterned glass of the door, the shape and size was oh so familiar. It couldn’t be Catherine, it absolutely couldn’t be, but how nice to imagine that it was. (It wasn’t.)
I visited friends recently and was shown what appeared at first glance to be a beautiful picture of a full and complete family. Three generations, all ages, sizes and shapes, different personalities. It was easy to forget, looking at that picture of so many happy faces, that a central figure was missing – the mother/grandmother, taken by cancer some years back.
Who isn’t living with loss? Who isn’t missing someone?
Missing what was
When they were here
Missing what should have been
If they’d have stayed near
Missing the smile at the start of the day
Missing the hug when they went away
Missing the voice that said our name
Missing the hand we held in our own
Missing the scent that walked in the room
Missing the laughter that made our heart glow
Missing the one who sat in that chair
Missing the one who is no longer here
One way of handling those profound feelings of loss is to try to distract yourself, and that sometimes works. Another way is to make them a part of your day. Just writing about Catherine for a moment made me feel a bit better. And just now I looked up at my big picture of Pax and see him smiling. I remember the feel of the fabric of the dungarees he’s wearing, and that sensation roots me back into that time, so long ago, when he was here.
Back to the tree of the logo. A tree is full of history, each ring inside is another layer of its story. Those stories and memories are part of us, to be treasured.