An old man perspective on grief.

An old mans answer to a question - My friends just died I don’t know what to do?

"Alright, here goes. I’m old. What that means is that I’ve survived (so far) and a lot of people I’ve known and loved did not. I’ve lost friends, best friends, acquaintances, co-workers, grandparents, mom, relatives, teachers, mentors, students, neighbors, and a host of other folks. I have no children, and I can’t imagine the pain it must be to lose a child. But here’s my two cents.

I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.

As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.

In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.

Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.

Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks".


Hi Daffy my wife Jane passed away last November on our wedding photos in1975 there are 50 people on the group photo now there are maybe 6 people left who is going to be last person standing?? I am only 70 but in that time all those people young or old have gone old age certainly makes you think.
Regards my friend MM69

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Thank you Daffy, your words have struck a cord with me.

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I lost many of my aunts-uncles-cousins, even both my parents when i was in my 20’s and 30’s, i am now 68 and lost my partner Richard aged 74 just six months ago…Richard has one sister left who is nine years older than he is-was who is still here, having lost a brother some 20 or more years ago, i never knew their brother…Yes all my family have gone, both my parents when in their early-mid 60’s i am outliving both of them, all my uncles and aunts apart from one who i believe is still here and she would now be touching 90…so basically i am the only one left and i am now 68 & a half, living now in my MS body, oh yes i was diagnosed with MS at age of 64, same date 11th April as i lost my Richard this year 11th April…
Yes all three of my fur-babies, the loves of my life, and now my Richard have all departed and i am the only one left…this is now a very lonely and empty existence…


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As they say…" there’s no fun in this ageing process…"
I was hoping that both myself and my Richard would at least enjoy our retirement years together and grow old gracefully as many elderly couples are doing, sadly this was not to be for the pair of us…

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Hi Metalmickey69, I know what you mean. I recently came across a extended family photo, which has only four people still surviving. All these wonderful vibrant personalities gone. I’m sorry for you loss.

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