Loss and the resulting grief is not only relegated to the loss of a loved one. By no means is the pain and sorrow felt by the passing of someone we love diminished or negatable, but often their leaving also takes joy from other areas of our life. Through the bonds and connections we forge with those in our life we inevitably develop ties.
The things we bond over relating to our similarities. Favorite music genres are shared, favorite movies are watched repeatedly. We travel together and make memories that will always be tied to a particular locale. Sights, scents, sounds, touches and tastes all hold lingering memories etched into our souls just waiting to transport us back to a particular place, time, and person.
Simple joys are sometimes hard to recover. For me, the sight and scent of flowers will never hold the same beauty that they hold for others. They are forever intricately tied to the sight and smell of funeral homes. I have endured much death in my 36 spirals around the sun. I have lost count of how many funerals I have attended. I always pick up the scent of the floral arrangements before the attendants even open the doors. This is not a pleasant association.
My religion is based on nature and the beauty that resides in it. Receiving flowers as a token of affection is initially met with a brief internal wince (don’t get me wrong, I’m still a woman and will always cheerfully accept flowers from a gentleman!). Walking through the floral department at my grocery store sometimes feels like a stab in the gut.
Loss, affects all of our senses. Virtually everyone has a favorite meal or dessert that our parents, grandparents, aunts or uncles were known for, and no matter how valiant the effort to recreate it, it just never seems to be quite right.
It has long been said that music is the universal language. As a musician, I believe this. We all have a special song, band, genre that speaks to us. There are certain songs that transport us back to a certain place and time, person. There are several of these songs for me that will forever remind me of the death of someone close to me.
In three of the funerals I have helped plan, I created an entire soundtrack to be played during the wake, as per the requests of the deceased. There are songs that I can no longer listen to without the melancholy setting in.
So what do we do to reclaim these simple pleasures? It’s simple, really. We do one of two things. Either we let them go, or we try. We chose to change the radio station when that song comes on. The favorite meal is never prepared again. On the other hand, we can chose to listen to the song and reminisce. We prepare the recipe, and remember the times we bonded over the meal, and laugh at the subtle, or sometimes not so subtle differences.
Grief is a funny creature. It pops up at random intervals, bringing with it memories. By choosing to honor the sensory and tactile memories, we keep the spirit of the loved one alive. Its cathartic to relive those moments when they present themselves. Allowing ourselves to (literally) smell the roses, dance to the beat, savor the tastes, we bring a little piece of them back.