“Grief and the Feeling of Loss”

“Grief is what happens in your mind and body when someone close to you dies. Your pain is deep, and your emotions may seem to be overwhelming. It involves expressing some of your deepest and most intimate feelings.

Gradually you will begin to notice that there are times when the hurt is not so great. This will be a sign that healing is taking place.”

A few years ago, I visited my friend Shirley in Phoenix. Shirley is in her mid-80’s. She has lived a good life. She felt fine, she was active, she had lots of friends and had done a lot of good things in her life, touched a lot of people’s hearts. The doc told her she had an aneurism near the brain, 70% clogged arteries, and a few other things. He also told her that operating could kill her, and to just hang around ’til the aneurism blows, and she expires quietly! He said there wouldn’t be much pain, just over in seconds. Her response, “How can I be so sick and not feel sick?” Her life is like running your Debit card at the checkout stand, when it gets declined when it worked yesterday and the day before. Shirley was cookin’ along, having fun, running around in her golf cart, playing bingo, smiling and taking care of the ‘old’ folks in her mobile home park, but… her ‘bank account of life’ was running out and soon said goodbye. She went out with a smile, and… leaving a few tears behind.

As I drove the 400 miles home to LA, I listened to my friend Rod McKuen’s iHeart station. I choked up and cried a bit, thought about lots. My life, Shirley’s, and others. It was spring time, it was Easter, it was the start of a new year, flowers were blooming, summer was coming, things were looing good, but… it hit me that I had gone to visit Shirley to say “good bye”, it was the autumn of her life. Her journey here was soon done.

Rod’s song “Season’s of the Sun” broadsided me as I drove, listened, and sang along with the broadcast. Poignant and right on target with Shirley… and for me – PLUS now I am in the autumn of my life at 70, where I have lots and lots more time behind me than in front of me. Yup, it was hard to say Goodbye when Shirley still seemed to have lots of credit in her Debit card account seemed to have more funds, have lots of stories to tell, lots more kindness to share, and plenty more brownies to make for her family and friends… but her account had run out on this earth as we know it. She and her family have gone through all the seasons together, lived life fully, shared, talked and loved each other… but its still hard to say goodbye as the flowers bloom and the birds are singing.

Some lyrics from Rod’s song that strike home to me…

“Adieu my friend, it’s hard to die, when all the birds are singing in the sky. Now that the spring is in the air….
We had joy we had fun we had seasons in the sun, but the hills that we climbed were just seasons out of time.
Adieu my friend, please pray for me, I was the black sheep of the family.

You tried to teach me right from wrong, Too much wine and too much song,
Wondered how I got along, Adieu my friend, it’s hard to die, when all the birds are singing in the sky.
Now that the spring is in the air, little children everywhere,
When you see ’em I’ll be there.”

Well, Shirley, we had joy, we had fun, we had seasons in the Arizona sun, but the wine and the song, like the seasons have all gone. You left your legacy, now Goodbye, Shirley, my friend, it was hard for you to die when all the birds were singing in the sky, now that the spring is in the air. With the flowers everywhere. I wish that we could both be there.