Where to begin? How do we even express how we are feeling or will feel? As I write this, tears run down my cheek. How do we face the fact that eventually, we will all have to experience loss?
A couple of weeks ago, Carrot sent me a link to the “Grief Video Blog” from the American Alpine Club, where different climbers express how they have experienced grief after losing a significant other. This is a topic that had crossed my mind for the longest time after I first found out about climbing and extreme sports. I once thought, “There is an inherent risk that comes with extreme activities and there needs to be an acceptance of this in order to delve into the discipline.” However, let’s be raw and honest, we will all die. Now I clearly understand that it is only natural and part of the cycle of life. We are not immortal and this means that no, we won’t live forever. When we had the opportunity to sit down with Lynn, I asked her: “How do you cope with the loss of several loved ones throughout your personal/professional life?” Her answer was confusing at the moment, yet wise and loving; she answered something along the lines of: “You learn to understand death.”
While going through Angela Vanwiemeersch’s testimonial, tears soon made an appearance and my sight quickly went blurry. She opened up about the struggle to cope with the death of her loved one and mentioned something that struck me. Three years after Scott’s death, Angela still tries to do as many of the things they did together because it is a way for her to be closer to him, to reconnect. This portion of her testimonial took me back to a moment in life where the anticipation of grief was more present than ever.
My grandmother, a 97-year-old woman, had a medical emergency not too long ago. Doctors thought she was in the verge of passing and, to be honest, so did we. This moment made us, or at least me, realize the fragility of life. My grandmother has always gone though strange medical emergencies and came out victorious. Thereafter, we have unconsciously assigned her an illusory quality of immortality. Oh, what a mistake! She came out victorious, but there was something different this time around.
My grandmother is now as fragile as her own life, and as much as I would like her to hold on to it, I understand that her time will come. This is when anticipated grief comes to play. How do we handle it? How do we cope? I have never lost someone, yet, whose life was so intertwined with mine. I must point out at this point, that this does not compare, in any means, to the loss experienced by the people in the Alpine’s video nor want it to be perceived that way. However, I guess that we -regardless of discipline-, are never ready to cope with the loss of a loved one.
I was sitting with my aunt talking about my grandma and her inevitable, eventual death. My aunt has devoted her life to my grandmother and does not know anything beyond that. Therefore, she confessed to me that she feels like a coward and is not ready to face what is ahead of her. After a long, sincere conversation, she concluded with these words, “It will be okay, because when you lose someone you love, you live from your memories.”
I won’t say that I am ready for loss, and I won’t say it won’t hurt or that it is okay. All I have to say, right now, is that I understand.
Beyond all, I am grateful for the memories.