Grief's profound touch is not confined to the realm of losing a loved one. The pain and anguish that accompany their departure remain undeniable and irreplaceable, yet their absence often casts a shadow over other aspects of our lives, stealing away pockets of joy. As we weave bonds and connections with those around us, we inadvertently intertwine our experiences.
These connections are cultivated over shared preferences and commonalities. Shared music genres become the soundtrack of our togetherness, cherished films turn into shared experiences. Our shared journeys create lasting memories forever linked to specific places and times. The imprint of sights, scents, sounds, textures, and flavors imbeds itself within us, ready to whisk us away to a different time, place, and presence.
Yet, the retrieval of simple joys can prove to be a challenging endeavor. For instance, the sight and fragrance of flowers, usually symbols of beauty and affection, now carry an unbidden association with funeral homes. My journey across 36 revolutions around the sun has been marked by numerous encounters with death, and I've lost track of the funerals attended. The scent of floral arrangements greets me even before the doors to the service open – an unsettling link.
As a practitioner of a nature-based faith, I celebrate the beauty inherent in the natural world. Still, when gifted flowers, a reflexive internal reaction momentarily dims my enthusiasm (let it be clear, as a woman, I will always accept flowers from a gentleman with a smile!). A casual stroll through the grocery store's floral section can feel like a sudden jolt to the gut.
Loss resonates through all our senses. We all possess a cherished family recipe, a particular dish or dessert that was the specialty of parents, grandparents, aunts, or uncles. Despite our sincerest efforts, recreating it can never capture the exact essence.
Music, a universal language, carries the power to evoke memories. As a musician, I embrace this belief. Each of us has that one song, band, or genre that carries us back to a specific time, place, or person. There exist songs that forever link me to the memory of losing someone dear.
In crafting the wakes for three funerals, I orchestrated soundtracks as per the wishes of the departed. However, certain tunes now tug at me with a sense of melancholy.
So, how can we reclaim these seemingly simple joys? The choice is twofold. We either let them slip away or engage in a deliberate effort. We can change the station when that poignant song begins to play. Our beloved dish may never grace our table again. Alternatively, we might choose to let the song play and relive memories. We might prepare the recipe, embracing the times we shared the meal and chuckling at the subtle differences.
Grief is a capricious entity. It surfaces at unexpected moments, ushering forth waves of reminiscences. By honoring the sensory and tactile memories, we keep alive the essence of our loved ones. There's catharsis in revisiting those moments, embracing the chance to (literally) smell the roses, sway to the rhythm, and savor the tastes. In these acts, we invite a fragment of them back into our lives.