to lose, very suddenly and without warning, someone you love or are very close to? To put it bluntly, it is like no other feeling in the world. It supersedes all the other OMG moments as it settles into our bones like the chill of December. It takes shock and disbelief to a new level. I found out first hand a few years ago when I came home and found my husband, who was very much alive when I left to go to work, dead. The shock was profound. What in the world had happened in the hours I had been gone and totally oblivious to what was happening at home? The instant feeling of emptiness will always be somewhere in the back of my mind and likely continue to show its ugly face at the most inopportune time. It has been three years, or will be in a few weeks, since that fateful day, but there are times when I feel like I’m walking in for the first time. How odd, that sensation, when I feel so vulnerable and so alone and so focused on my own loss and loneliness; how thankful I am that those times are now few and far between.
It’s difficult, in the best of times, to come to terms with the sudden and unexpected loss of someone you care about, be it a family member or dear friend or even someone that you remember fondly from your past. It doesn’t matter who they are if they meant something to you. Artists who paint will either paint as if tomorrow is a myth, or stop; photographers will take chances they would have never have taken or they will simply stop photographing for a time, musicians will either write as though their life depended on it or turn from their music completely. We artists don’t deal with things the way other people do; that is often hard for the “others” to understand.
In my own experience, photography became nothing more than a reminder of what I had lost and it was months before I could come to terms with it and be able to pick up my Pentax and look through it without a blinding fog over my eyes. There was, I now know, nothing wrong with that. At the time, I thought I was past weird and well on my way to the funny farm, but looking back, I realize that it was all part of the process. There is no right way or wrong way to grieve. There is only the way that feels right at the time. If you go against what you feel in your heart, then the only recourse is regret. I try very hard to not do things that I will regret; sometimes I do them anyway, but then, I think I speak for most of us.
Losing someone we care about doesn’t change who we are but it does make us wonder if we could have been more. That thought, though, should not consume us. There will always be more that we could have done, could or should have said, could have made happen; dwelling on these things will not change anything. I choose to dwell on the things that I did and not on the ones that I will never be able to do. I am happier, and saner, for it.