Walk with me down to the edge of the water. Step with me onto the wooden pier that connects the shoreline of seemingly solid stability to a world of liquid uncertainty. As we make our way along the planks, notice the smell… it’s fresh, it’s muddy, it’s fishy, it’s exciting, it’s familiar. We come to a spot where we find a small boat tide off to a metal cleat. Let’s jump in gingerly, let’s untie the rope carefully, let’s stay as steady as we can and let’s push off. We are going to float for a moment on the sea of memory.
Memory is a word that can be packed with emotion, especially if you have experienced loss in your life. It could be the loss of a relationship; companionship; independence; financial stability or any number of other things you cherish. In fact, whatever the loss, if your loss carries with it an element of love and value, you will react or respond to that loss. It’s called…Grieving… If you are grieving, your memory is probably connected to that which you have lost. However, while we are in the boat today, I would like to ask you to remember not only the loss but also something else. Remember school?
Yep, that’s what I said, school. Remember when you were in school? Remember your teachers and your classrooms and those quirky desks you once called “home”? Remember when your teacher would give you an assignment or a test and you would have to provide a “Definition” to a word or a term? If you are like me, you did not always look forward to multiple trips to the glossary located at the back of the book. Looking back, it’s an amazing thing, the more definitions you learned, the more you begin to recognize the importance of the definitions. In fact, definitions provide clarity and stability and insight to the world around us and they often serve as keys that unlock the doors that lead us to further understanding and discovery.
Each of us has a “definition” attached to our lives. It’s how we are perceived, how we are viewed, how we are accepted (or rejected), it is how we are identified by the people…including ourselves. When we lose those that we love… dare we say it…when someone we care about and are attached to dies, it has a tendency to mess with our definition. Everything was one way, now everything is a different way. The definition of the word “spouse” used to be so clear… now, not so much. The definition of son or daughter that was without question now seems to somehow demand an asterisk. The definition of grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, aunt, uncle, friend… they all become shadowy reflections of a life before the loss.
Gradually you begin to comprehend that life, your life, is defined by “Redefinition”, and redefinition is not always easy and it’s not always pain free or guilt free. It is, however, always a normal part of the grieving process.
Wes Bynum, Direct of Care Support Services