I Just Want To Talk: Grief and the Wind Telephone
By Anne Coscarelli, PhD, Director, Simms/Mann-UCLA Center for Integrative Oncology
Grief is one of the most difficult emotions that we experience in life. We all face it in big and small ways throughout life as we live through loss. Loss comes in many forms including friends that move away, changes in jobs, relationship changes, and loss of function as we age. Loss can come in big forms such as illness and cancer. It can be intense and deep with the death of a loved one. Loss brings powerful emotions; sadness, wishing for the presence of these people in our lives, wishing to be with them one more time, wanting to update them on what has happened since they passed. Sometimes we wish to say things that we did not get to say because the death came too quickly or unexpectedly. Sometimes we just want to talk to them. Their absence is painful and life moves on but certain events trigger that need to communicate. Loss is something that binds us all in this world because we all experience it at different times and in different ways, and with distinct immediate and long term effects. One of the most common wishes among survivors is to have more conversations with the person that we lost. I know from working with people who have lost someone as well as my own personal experiences that our relationships with the people we love are not lost, but they have changed. Having lost my mother, I still remain connected to her and there are days that I just want to pick up the phone and talk to her. Someone shared a podcast on “This American Life” called “Really Long Distance: Act One.” It tells the story how one man coped with the loss of his cousin after the 2011 tsunami in Japan. It began with a phone booth in his garden. It helped him and others immeasurably in their grief.
I hope you find this as powerfully meaningful as I did. It is touching and poignant. For me it helps to frame not only what needs to be said before loss, but that the door remains open for heartfelt communication and the maintenance of the relationship. May it make you think or act on the desire to stay connected even in the loss, while still moving forward with your lives.
Below are some additional resources on grief that may be helpful especially as the holidays approach. Holidays can create increased feelings of loss and sadness as we recognize the absence of those who once participated in these celebrations with us.
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization: http://www.caringinfo.org/i4a/pages/index.cfm?pageid=3367