Everybody Hurts

My mom’s body was bent, curled, and utterly ruined when she died. She had been sick for a very long time. Still, when she died it hurt so much I thought I might break from the pain of it.

People tried to tell me that my grief and sadness were unwarranted, that I should have been rejoicing because her suffering had ended. Well-meaning people reminded me that young people die in perfect health, in accidents. They compared the loss of my mom to those losses, as if her leaving mattered less.

Here's what I think: our losses are deeply personal. We should not compare our grief to that of another. We should not compare our hardships. Did the pain of others diminish the loss of my mother? Should I have grieved less because she suffered from a horrible disease that eventually consumed her? Of course not. We cannot quantify grief. It is what it is.

I cried when my beloved German shepherd, Kina, died. I still tear up when I think of her. She was loyal, equally capable of puppy wiggles and guard dog possessiveness. I grieved the loss of her. Is the loss of a beloved pet a big thing in the face of starving children? No, but I felt it nonetheless.

I'm grateful that my tears aren't reserved for big things. I'm grateful for the tears that fall over what some would quantify as little things. I am grateful for the passion that I feel about life. I don't regret it. Life is too short to live it with our hearts always in check.

There will always be people who are better off and worse. Always there will be catastrophic losses, small grief's, huge joys, and simple blessings. One loss does not magnify or diminish another.

Every living thing dies. Does that mean that we should not mourn? Of course not. We feel it. We keep it in perspective. We remember that loss has come and will come again.

Pain reminds us to appreciate joy when it comes. Death reminds us to love the living harder, fiercer, and better.

We spend too much time apologizing for our pain. We spend too much time trying to compose ourselves. Life is short. I want to feel it, every moment of it. I don't want to get lost inside of pain, but I want to walk through it when it comes. I don't want to duck under it or dart past it.

When you're in pain, I promise that I will not say chin up or it's for the best or life goes on or God's still in heaven. I'll simply let you know that I feel for you and with you. If you need a hug, I'll give it.


©Just Kate, Rewritten April 15, 2010.
(Originally published in 2008 as "Everybody Dies")

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    About Me

    I love laughter, wickedness, fearlessness, irreverence, and kindness. I love road trips where I can prop my bare feet up on the dashboard. I love the feel of sunshine warm against my bare skin, the smell of the mountains and the roar of the ocean. I love to read. I love to challenge conventional thinking. I'm a huge fan of spirituality but have little tolerance for religion. I love to talk faith and philosophy. I love children. I get bored far too easily. I love debate and people who don't try too hard. I love it when people aren't afraid to disagree with me and know why they believe what they believe.

    Music

    Things that sound like music to me: rain on a tin roof, the trill of birds first thing in the morning, the coo and gurgle of happy babies, the beat of African drums, the roar of the ocean as the tide ebbs and flows, the sound of a rushing river, unrestrained laughter, the wind moving through leaves, the tick-tock of my grandma's old clock, the crash of thunder, a quiet whisper in my ear, the contented purr of a cat, the musical ting ting of wind chimes, children laughing, the sizzle sizzle sound of something yummy cooking, and the rustle of dry leaves under my feet.

    I also enjoy many musicians and bands including: Ray LaMontagne, Jason Mraz, The Black Eyed Peas, John Mayer, James Carrington, CCR, REM. My favorite genre is acoustic folk/rock.

    Favorite Quotes

    "We are what we repeatedly do; excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." —Aristotle

    "The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering." - Ben Okri

    "What we think, or what we know, or what we believe is, in the end, of little consequence. The only consequence is what we do."—John Ruskin