Death, grief, despair: these scorns of life are devastating. Death is arguably the most sorrowful time an individual can experience in life. Most unfortunate is when people encounter death within a family, a friendship, or an acquaintance. Sometimes, the loss can hurt so bad that it may seem like the pain and suffering will never go away.
Bill, a dear friend of mine, lost his wife to cancer at age 60 and a brother to murder at age 42. He uses faith, philosophy, family, and friends to mitigate his loss.
I would like to share the following story/essay that he wrote a while ago while thinking of these unfortunate events. It is our hope that this story will help ease the pain and sadness of others who may be struggling with the loss of a loved one.
Here is Bill’s story/essay.
As part of the human race, we all suffer loss. Loss is not a one-time occurrence, it happens to us and then it happens again. Loss is always difficult to accept. On the loss of a loved one, we wish to hold open the door into the next world and pull the deceased out. We wish to kiss those vanished lips, to hear that silenced voice; but it doesn’t work that way.
There is an instructive story on grief titled, “Kafka and the Doll.” In the story, Franz Kafka encountered a little girl in the park where he and his friend Dora walked daily. The little girl was disconsolate and weeping as if her heart would break. When Kafka inquired about her tears, the girl said she had lost her doll. Kafka told the girl that he knew for a fact the doll was fine. How he could be so certain, the little girl asked? Why just that morning, Kafka told the girl, he had received a letter from the doll.
Kafka arranged to meet the little girl the next day at the same spot in the park. That night he composed a letter from the doll and read it to the little girl when they met. “Please do not mourn me, I have gone on a trip to see the world. I will write to you about my adventures.”
The meetings and the letters from the beloved doll continued. The little girl was comforted. When the meetings came to an end, Kafka presented her with a new doll. The doll obviously looked different from the original doll. An attached letter explained: “Do not be surprised at my appearance, my travels and adventures have changed me.”
Many years later, the now-grown girl found a letter stuffed into a deep fold in the cherished replacement doll. Kafka had written, “Everything you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end, love will return in a different form.”
Grief and loss are ubiquitous and an inescapable part of being human. Holding the perspective of the universality of loss, helps us deal with our loneliness and regret in times of grief, for if grief is omnipresent, we are less alone, less regretful. Holding the conviction that “love will return” is the path towards healing. As with the little girl in the story, following our loss and a period of grief, our job is to recognize love when it returns in its new form.
Those loved ones for whom we mourn would not want us to be in tears and sadness. They want us to remember them with laughter and with smiles, and to find love in all its new forms.
*Editor’s Note: Bill is simply a wonderful, charming, and outgoing man. After the loss of his wife, he continued teaching until he retired a few years ago. Since then, he has traveled across America, hiked great mountains of the world, explored various countries and cultures, and has see and discovered the many beautiful things in this world. His warm personality and sense of humor have brought encouragement and happiness to all that have met him.
“The song may have ended but the melody lingers on.” ~ Irving Berlin