When someone close to you dies, a hole is left where a relationship used to be. Because of his or her death, there are things that will not get done unless they are reassigned to someone else. Your relationship with your loved one is gone, but so also might be the friends you used to spend time with because things have changed – in you, in them, in general – since your life-altering personal tragedy. Life looks different now because when your loved one left, so did the roles and relationships you once knew.
When a loved one dies, you experience the primary loss of that person and all he or she meant to you. Secondary losses are the rest of the weight of a life without that person in your life. They are the rest of the equation – the things that you no longer have because the person with whom they were associated is gone. Secondary losses are not secondary because they are less significant, but rather because they are a result of the primary loss.
In February 2016, the lives of Lindsey Atkins and Lizzie Lindberg went through epic changes that culminated to a profound juxtaposition on Saturday, February 20th. These circumstances compelled us to write our stories together.
At that time and even right now I wonder, was it worth it? Was it truly better to have passionately loved Eric and to have felt the tearing anguish of his absence than to never have loved him at all? Most of the time my answer to those questions is a resounding “YES.” Other times, when breathing becomes like rocket science and surviving is my only goal… I wonder if love is worth the pain of loss.
The loss of a beloved pet is one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. It is the loss of one who loved unconditionally and was there when it seemed like no one else was. It is the loss of a helper, a tender teacher, a faithful listener, a friend. It’s the changing of lovely memories into sad remembrances because of obvious absence. It’s the creation of sacred moments that once seemed inconsequential. Today, I remember my grief for Teddy less frequently than I once did, and the reality of his absence affects the tone of my day much more subtly than it did when the cut was fresh. Yet, the unique type of grief I experienced when my Teddy left this world is not something I expect to ever forget.
When tragedy fell on my family, I doubted more than anything else that I would ever be happy again on earth. In those days, the darkness was so dense that even the brightest truths couldn’t cut through the heaviness in my heart. I truly did not expect to experience belly-laughing good times ever again. I assumed I would taste joy, because of the hope of Heaven after this world, and I predicted that someday I would smile at lovely memories. I did expect to see some kind of light at the end of this tunnel. But happiness? Not likely. Not in this lifetime. Until bright spots started breaking through the cracks of my brokenness.