I never want to stop feeling...
Today I followed the gurney of a young woman who died, out to the car. We scattered pink rose petals on her as she was rolled out, and we had "Let it Be," playing in the background, which was at her daughter's request. Her daughter was not there... it was too much for her to witness. I get that.
As the man from the funeral home pushed the gurney outside, rose petals slowly blew off of her and fell to the ground, in very slow motion. I heard birds in the background. I also heard someone bringing out their trash cans, someone else saying goodbye to their spouse who was driving away, and kids on their way to school. Life goes on... even as rose petals fall to the ground.
As I watched the car drive away, I felt a hot tear burning down the side of my face. It stung. I have seen this hundreds of times, and yet for someone reason, this time really affected me. Maybe it was because she was alone, maybe because she was a mother, or maybe because she was too young to go. I tried to rationalize why this stung so much sharper than others before and I realized it was because this was the ending of a life and that reality does not fade with time, it almost becomes more powerful with time, at least for me.
I thought to myself... if I ever stop feeling like this I will know... I can no longer do this work. Perhaps the other is true though too... what if this feeling, the one I had today as I watched the car drive away, worsens with time? What if the tears sting more and more with each death I witness? I am a human being, I have feelings... sometimes I wonder if there is a part of me that thinks I have to put that aside, that you cannot show emotions in this work. It is a struggle I am familiar with, but I am learning that the more death I witness, the more emotional I become, and for now, that is okay.
With this work...
Life has so much more meaning for me.
Love has so much more meaning for me.
Family has so much more meaning for me.
Death has so much more meaning for me.
Grief has so much more meaning for me.
My tears sting because a life ended, and that matters to me. I never want to lose this feeling, I never want to stop appreciating the gift of life, or the feelings people have when they have to say goodbye. This reminds me how powerful love is, and that grief is a reflection of that love and should be honored and cared for well. And sometimes, most times really, a tear that stings as it falls down your face just indicates that you feel. I never want to stop feeling.