Tuesday, August 7, 2018

In the Process of Losing

Loss is a subject often discussed. Losing is not.

Loss is a permanent state of depletion. Losing is a prolonged torture. 

I've written about loss before. I don't make any attempt to define it because words are just not enough. Especially when it's new, but even many years later thoughts still have the ability to rip our hearts. Grief, at some level, is never-ending.

There are many kinds of loss. Sudden, no matter when it happens is always too soon. Expected. no less painful. I don't claim that one is better than the other. It all sucks, leaves us changed, in some ways diminished.

When we have had a loss, friends, neighbors, even acquaintances cocoon us. There are social and religious conventions that kick in, they come to our homes, bring meals, join in religious rites, call, text, email, send cards. Our community place their hearts with our as we take those first steps into grief.

Jamaican- Style Grilled Chicken, chicken breasts infused with a bold smoky Jamaican jerk flavored marinade then grilled for an easy family dinner. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #chicken #dinner

Jamaican-Style Grilled Chicken
Jamaican- Style Grilled Chicken, chicken breasts infused with a bold smoky Jamaican jerk flavored marinade then grilled for an easy family dinner. | Recipe developed by www.BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #chicken #dinner

Going through the process of losing is altogether different: the cancer that took my brother and the Alzheimer's that stole my father were traumatic. On a daily basis. Having to watch someone slip away is nothing short of torture. 

Because when you are in the process of losing, you are actively moving towards loss. You know how this story ends, that agony is ahead. Your brain and your heart scream at you "turn back, don't go there" but the thrust forward is completely out of your control. You cannot turn back. You cannot even stop and catch your breath. 

And during these long, drawn out, devastating times we are not cocooned, we are book-ended. When that prognosis is first delivered we hear words of compassion and encouragement from friends, neighbors, acquaintances. Then, when the journey ends in the eventual loss, we are supported by all of the societal and/or religious rituals of mourning. But in between we frequently walk alone. By alone I mean as a family, of course, but they are as emotionally and physically diminished by the unremitting assault as we are. 

I have a friend, one I've never met, whose young daughter recently went through a year long cancer regime. Let me just say now that this is not a story of losing (well, a lot actually was lost, but not a life), her daughter is currently back home and in remission. But there is a correlation to be made through this example, and it's what got me thinking on these terms to begin with. 

When her daughter was first diagnosed, her family was surrounded with warmth and good wishes, hopes and prayers. And through that lifetime-long year, whenever she posted pictures or updates on social media they were met with an outpouring of love. I am many miles away, but I checked in with her privately on a regular basis, not only to see how her daughter was doing but ask about how she herself was coping. You know what she told me at one point? She said that she appreciated my checking in on a personal level, that I was one of very few who still did. 

I was shocked.

In the Process of Losing. Loss garners support, losing requires more | Graphic property of www.BakingInATornado.com | #loss #grief

I do understand that when those around us are going through a long term crisis it is hard to reach out to them for a multitude of reasons. First of all, we fear we don't know the right thing to say, or what it's OK to ask. We are afraid of bothering them, that it's not the right time, or that they don't want to be forced to talk about their pain. Second, it brings us absolute terror. We put ourselves in their place and for even that one minute we just cannot deal, even hypothetically.

In many cases it's much simpler. It's that our lives go on, they are hectic and complicated. It's not that we forget what they're going through, we just don't focus on how quickly time flies by for us. But minutes, for them, move at once both excruciatingly slowly and with unbearable speed.

I'm not saying that those suffering through a prolonged period of losing don't have any support outside the family at all, of course they do. But between the diagnosis and the loss, it's not constant and consistent, it's spotty at best. And during this time it is not some level of compassion that's needed, it's all of it.

I have a few other friends, also ones I've never met, who are currently in the process of losing. I am committed to making sure that they are not just book-ended.

Because I now realize that if we have enough of a connection with a family to reach out at the beginning, and we know them well enough to support them in the end, then we should consider making the ongoing effort to be there to help fill the middle.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Jamaican-Style Grilled Chicken

Printable Recipe

4 bone in chicken breasts
3 TBSP vegetable oil
2 TBSP Jamaican jerk marinade
2 cloves garlic
1 TBSP brown sugar
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

*Rinse chicken and pat dry. Place chicken pieces into a gallon sized resealable bag.
*Mix together all of the remaining ingredients. Pour into the bag with the chicken and massage to be sure that all of the pieces of chicken are completely coated. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to overnight, turning the bag now and then.
*Heat the grill to medium and grill the chicken, turning once, until the chicken is fully cooked and the juices run clear.


  1. I’ve been bookending someone I know, who is fighting cancer. I have my own grief to deal with (mother in law’s dementia and hospitalizations)but it’s not an excuse. If anything I should be more aware.Thank you for the wake up call. Alana ramblinwitham.blogspot.com

    1. I've been guilty of it myself. It was that one comment from my friend whose daughter was in the hospital that made me realize it.

  2. Thank you for the wake up call. I, too, have been bookending, thinking that my friend probably has so many private messages and things to deal with that I did not want to bother her. I realize now that it has been an excuse I feed to myself. I'll reach out to her. Thank you.

    1. I am so glad this piece gave you something to think about, Emily.

  3. Oh, my goodness! I am so guilty of this! Never even thought of it.
    I will be different from now forward . . .

  4. We don't think of how it is to be slowly losing a loved one, as my nan slipped away with Alzheimer's robbing us of the woman we loved, it was horrible and it wasn't something I thought about it was just happening

    1. Yes, Alzheimer's is a horrendous disease. I'm sorry for your loss.

  5. This!!! I can't tell you how true this is.
    A lot of time people just assume that others have a support system and that isn't always the case.
    In my own experiences I've always welcomed others reaching out. It doesn't matter if you were there at the beginning or plan on being there at the end, it's the now.
    If someone pops into your head, message them, post a comment, anything! Just let them know that are thought of.
    Because being in the middle of losing can feel very lonely.

    1. Your comment brings tears to my eyes. I know you've been through a lot. I hope you've felt loved and supported. Because you are.

  6. That sounds like my life until now. When you’re in the middle you see life going by at break neck speed and you begin to feel so disconnected that it’s hard to step back into as well. We don’t know what we may have missed, important things, so we say nothing when we want to stand up and scream please don’t forget me I’m still here. This was beautiful Karen!

    1. I actually refer to you at the end, Rena. I wrote this just after your mom was diagnosed with cancer.

  7. Now I want chicken on the grill! As someone who has gone through cancer and someone who has loved ones going through and living with cancer, there are no cures, just remission. Patients going through treatments, it is a long haul and a quick check in is always appreciated!

    1. I know, Haralee, that you can see this from both sides.


Warning: Comment at your own risk. I have Comment Moderation, meaning I approve all comments before they show up here. So go ahead, I'm not scared!