One of the great icons of our time has died. Paul Newman left this world on September 26, 2008, after a lengthy battle with cancer. A day later, Barbara Barnett, Jen Johans, and Diane Saenger, all Blogcritics writers, paid tribute on our website to this legendary movie giant, social activist, race car driver, and philanthropist.
Grief is the universal leveler, loss the common denominator, linking every human being throughout the world. Everyone’s life is touched by losses, death, and grief. As Emily Dickinson so eloquently reminded us, “Because I could not stop for Death, he kindly stopped for me.”
Even though death is a given in all of our lives, the question remains, “What does one do with this sense of sadness, loss, and longing?” Loss has such a “hollow feel” to it, a sense of longing, an emptiness within that brings us to tears or makes us aimlessly wander about the house touching objects or mementos that help keep the person alive for us. Thoughts and memories of the beloved echo in our mind’s eye. For some, there may be a perpetual lump in the throat or the feeling of a boulder sitting on the chest. One's heart may actually ache from the loss.
Grief feels surreal. The world continues to function and everything appears to be the same. Yet it feels as if nothing will ever be "normal" again. Certainly, loss occurs on a physical level. The deceased is forever gone from our lives, a realization that can be paralyzing, agonizing, and immobilizing. The loss also prohibits any type of future with the deceased. No more memory-making; it’s all in the past now.
Please know there is no such phenomenon as “getting over” the death of a loved person in our lives. What happens, rather, is that we accommodate and adapt to their absence and all that that entails.