In times of loss

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With the passing of our beloved Gov. Tuting Perdices early this month, I would like to pay my respects to his family, friends, relatives, people who worked for him, and to the public at large in this time of sorrow.

It was obvious from the people who spoke during his funeral that he was a well-respected and beloved leader, even back when he was still a mayor of this gentle City. His passing reminds us how fragile life is.

Lately, there have been other reported deaths from various causes, of people of different ages and backgrounds.

The death of someone close to us is always a difficult process to go through. The people left behind have to grieve for an unspecified time – some only for a short time, others for months and months or even years, depending on how close they were to the departed.

When I was a student at New York University for my Masters degree in clinical social work, I was assigned to work with cancer patients. It was a very intense assignment: my work involved counseling the dying and their families, and I also had to deal with staff who had seen death day in and day out at the cancer unit.

Although most of the patients were strangers to me, it was very difficult to cope with witnessing the ends of their lives.

It is impossible to prepare oneself for the loss, impossible to understand the sorrows that we experience when it happens, and pointless to try to find logic in the situation.

In the case of those who suffer from long-term illnesses, often there is an expectation that death is imminent, but yet when it happens we weep and wail just the same. Death is never subtle, nor calm. It creates chaos and unsettledness. It sends a shockwave through our nerves.

Frankly, none of us is prepared to face death, whether that of our loved ones, people who are close to us, or especially oursleves.

The irony of death is that it is absolutely certain, but few of us are prepared for it. Its only redeeming quality is that hopefully it puts an end to the suffering of the departed one.

Based on my experience, grief for the loss of someone we love has no time limit. It is very hard to tell someone that it is time to move on from their grief; it’s inappropriate and unthoughtful.

The grieving process is personal, and we all grieve in various ways. There is no right or wrong way to grieve, as long as we don’t harm ourselves or others.

Often, there are no words or deeds that can comfort the survivors, and sometimes they don’t wish to be comforted. In time, we heal and to find our bearings again, and when we do, there is a sense of relief, that our emotional suffering was worth going through, because it took its natural course.

Grief will pass, or will become part of us. Enduring the passing of loved ones can be a source of strength and will, an encouragement to live our lives to the fullest, so that people will remember us fondly when we ourselves pass on to whatever comes next.

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