The emptiness of loss
In my sixty-five years, I don’t ever remember looking into a pair of eyes as expressionless as I did on Monday past. Even her face was devoid of any emotion of any kind. This from a beautiful young woman whose face naturally radiated a smiling gentle spirit. So empty was her face that I found it hard to look at, but look I did as I approached her to give her a hug.
You see, last week she lost a child she had carried almost to term. I can’t think of any loss that would be more devastating than the loss of a child. It is one huge devastation to lose a child that has already been born and has experienced something of life however brief it might have been, but to have carried a child for close to nine months and then lose it is a forfeiture of life that was never meant to be. Gone are the plans for the future, as a matter of fact, what future? So concentrated are they on the loss, that both her and her mate have no thought for the future at this point; it hurts too much.
When I gave this young woman that hug, I could feel the emptiness that radiated from her, and it left me without a coherent thought as to what to say. The normal platitudes and supposed to be words of comfort just didn’t fit, so I just held her for a moment hoping in some way that the compassion and hope that I felt for her would transfer through that contact and bring her some comfort. We spoke for a few minutes as I tried to determine just how she was feeling, but when words are used totally without emotion, feelings are hard to identify. As she left with her mate, I let her know that if ever she wanted to talk or needed some extra support, that there were a lot of people that would help at the drop of a hat.
On Tuesday they were back downtown to take care of some of the details that always seem to be required. As they walked by the kitchen window, she looked in as if looking for something, and as soon as she spotted me, a smile broke on her face, and she came in. Most people are identifiable through some characteristic or another, and hers was her smile. We spoke for a few minutes and she told me of the details they had been dealing with that morning, but her next statement is what for me identified the true depth of her heart. “I just don’t know what I’m doing or what to do or think.”
I don’t know about you, but I cannot even imagine the depth of hurt to make a person feel that empty. Even though we have had some experience with this in our own family, and have had at least two other unborn deaths in our community, this type of loss never ever becomes ordinary. Society’s thoughtless disdain for the unborn notwithstanding, the hurt and pain that are experienced by a mother whose body has carried this child regardless of how long, and then having lost it, are in my mind one of the most painful to watch.
And as much as the mother goes through all this trial and tribulation, very little is said about what the father goes through, especially when he has willingly gone through tremendous changes in his own life so that he too could see a lot of his dreams and anticipations fulfilled. Suddenly, what seemed like direction in his life is gone and he has nothing to replace it, all the while unable to explain his feelings regarding their loss, and is uncertain about how he should feel or how to express it.
Life oft-times is just not fair to a lot of people, but it gives the rest of us an opportunity to assist in ways that we have the God given gifts to do.
That’s how I see it anyways.