Sometimes the hardest part of losing someone is losing all the possibilities. Losing the chances of what could’ve been.
It’s one thing letting go of what was— saying goodbye, and moving on. It’s another thing having someone die. A death that you can’t even explain, and being forced to say goodbye; letting stories become memories. You wonder how life would go in the future if they were still with you. You wonder what moments and love you could have shared if you just had more time.
But truth be told, you can hold onto the memories, but you can’t truly hold on to the future. You can’t hold onto what might have been because it never was and it never will be. I know, losing the chances of the future is tremendously hard. Losing the chance to make new memories is terrifying. One day you had a whole future planned out with someone. You had a whole life to live together. You had endless possibilities just waiting for you. Thousands of perfect, deep conversations, and millions of beautiful little adventures. You hoped for many more perfect moments.
And then one day, one moment, it was all gone. The hopes, the possibilities, the lovely moments that the future had in store for the two of you have washed away as if they had never existed. And at that moment, you couldn’t even begin to grasp the emotions you were feeling. And even now, you still can’t fathom the loss you are feeling in your heart.
The part that really messes with you is the fact that you are never going to know what would’ve happened or what could’ve been. No matter how many times you replay the ending, nothing changes. Your future together doesn’t magically return. Your person doesn’t come back, no matter how many hours you spend hoping and hoping.
You can’t fix it. Life doesn’t always go according to plan. So your only option is to just settle with what you had, and treasure every single moment – good and bad.
Why’d you leave?
This question haunts everyone who has lost someone. Looking for answers, seeking guidance, recalling memories, and out of all these, you try your hardest to stay strong because you believe that that’s what your loved one would have wanted.
For me, it always felt selfish to grieve. I think of endless excuses for those who were closer to the person like my mother, my grandma, my aunts, my cousins— urging myself to be strong for them, I belittled my own feelings to be able to present a strong front. While trying my best to succeed at this, I learnt something.
Grief is an intensely personal thing. It is not dependent on a who-has-it-worst battle. Your grief is legitimate, whether or not someone else was closer to them, or has it worse. Grief, when handled, is also incredibly unifying. This is why funerals are so powerful. Funerals, I’ve learned, are not for those who have passed but for the living. Funerals are for processing grief together. By grieving, you do not lose your ability to console and be with your mother, your grandma, your aunts or cousins. Instead, by grieving together, you strengthen that ability to be there for them when they need it most.
When you deny grief, you isolate yourself. If you shut down, and avoid, you often destroy the true possibility of helping your loved ones through their grief as well. Helping someone grieve can depend on the person or family. For me, I’ve learned that crying together is more helpful than I ever could have imagined.
If I had shut down, I wouldn’t have been able to tell my aunt’s stories that I’ve shared with my family since her passing. I wouldn’t have talked to them about how she always fed me a lot of yummy food when I was young, or how she was so good at playing cards, or ultimately how amazing of a person she truly was.
And one day, it’ll get easier. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not next month. But one day you will see that what you had was beautiful, and you’ll be able to make peace with the ending of your story together.
Through this loss, I’ve realized a lot. That grief is not a sign of weakness but strength. I no longer wish to avoid and cause unnecessary additional pain. I wish to grieve with my family. I wish to heal, and I hope that you do too. It’s going to hurt a lot. It’s going to punch you over and over again. You’re going to cry every single day. But through all the tears, you’ll realize that what you had was something so special. Something that you will hold onto as you move forward on your own. Something that will always be with you, even if the person is not.
I hope you remember that by grieving, you are not forgetting them. You are not dismissing their life. You are not selfish. You are not alone. But rather, you are celebrating their life and their impact. You and your loved ones are stronger together. Never forget that.