There are situations that can further complicate our ability to mourn a loss. My heart goes out to all of you who are dealing with the pain of caring about a person who is alive, yet unavailable. Perhaps you want to help keep someone you love safe and feel powerless to do so.
Examples include loved ones who are:
**Suffering from psychological or memory disorders including Alzheimer’s
**At-risk for suicide or have had previous suicide attempts
**Missing, kidnapped, run away, in prison, choosing to refuse communication or just emotionally distant.
**Struggling with dangerous circumstances like chemical addictions, homelessness, and domestic abuse, recovery from crime or torture.
Humans tend to crave clarity, simplicity. In circumstances like these, many of the common emotions of grief like sadness, anger, guilt, confusion and regret may be even stronger and harder to manage. When can one begin to mourn the ‘loss’ of a parent who no longer remembers that you are their child? If a friend or sibling is living on the streets, doing drugs and possibly turning to high-risk activities like crime or prostitution, when does that ‘mourning period’ begin and end?
Empathy for situations like these came to me while standing in my little sister’s apartment immediately following her suicide. Though it was surreal and incredibly sad, at least we knew what had happened, that her death had been intentional and–at least physically–she died in peace.
As I went about removing her belongings, I found tiny, hand-written notes placed around her apartment on little, blue pieces of paper. She had written, “The iPod charger needs to be jiggled sometimes” “This jewelry belonged to Mom; I think the emeralds are real”. There was so much information and a clear suicide note saying how much she loved us and that she was sorry to cause us so much pain.
In those moments, surrounded by proof that she was dead and information about what had happened, my heart burst open with sympathy for people do not have those luxuries. Amidst the overwhelming sadness, waves of calm came over me as I realized how lucky we were that this chapter of our lives closing.
This post has less actual ‘advice’ then most that I write here for BodyAwareGrieving.
Truly I am just honoring those of you suffering from unclear losses and stresses that are hard to put to rest. Be as kind to yourself as possible if you are waiting for news about someone you care about who is missing, or in danger.
Take a break from wondering what more you can–or could–have done. Realize that even if the person you love is technically alive, you can begin grieving for them if that helps you feel a sense of peace and sanity. Know that there are other people in a wide range of circumstances that are confused and worried also.
Though you may be concerned about their problems, remember that you are in need of healing and recovery too.
Best wishes to you, Margo Rose