There is no way that you can experience what it means to have someone that you love die and not be scarred forever. This doesn’t mean that with a great deal of hard work you won’t again feel able to face tomorrow and what life brings with it, but things will never be the same. Until you have been touched by the agony that the death of a very close loved one offers, it is difficult, if not impossible to imagine what grief is like. Shock, uncertainty, loneliness and a profound sense of abandon all come with the pain of grief. Once you go through the necessary emotional work required to heal, you will find that you can again manage life, but things will no longer look or taste the same. With the death of someone you hold dear comes the loss of innocence. The fiber of your being is torn and there is no way that you will understand life and all it offers the same again. Judy compared living through the death of her husband Charles to getting a new prescription for her glasses. When Charles was well and life was good I saw everything through happy lenses. Even unhappy or difficult times were easy to take because we were hopeful and we had each other. When he became ill I saw life through dark glasses. I couldn’t understand how others didn’t see it too. Things that only a short while ago were bright and positive looked dim and bleak. After Charles died it was different again. Now I saw things, maybe for the first time in my life in a clear stark contrast to what I had known before. I had no rosy picture of life and no false hope that every story had a happy ending. For the first time I saw the world as those who hurt and are maimed see it. It all felt so different, so stark and cruel. By and large the majority who suffer through the death of someone that they are very close to manage to go on and live a full, rich life. Like Judy, however, they live it with a different point of view and a new perspective. Christmas is no less valuable without Santa but it will forever have a different flavor. Some never mend from their grief. The loss may be too much for them to bear or the desire to move forward is less than the hold that their painful reality has on them. Elderly people often have a hard time getting through their grief, especially when they lose a partner. It can be difficult to find the motivation to do all of the difficult emotional work needed when the other side of grief feels like it may not have much to offer. Some become stuck and simply can’t get past the trauma of their loved one’s death. Just like surgery; for some the incision is permanently crippling, for others the desire to make the best of their situation overrules the scarring, the pain or the possible inability, and they push on determined to live. I spoke with a man only this week who told me about his friend who lost her sister suddenly in an automobile accident. She is paralyzed by her grief. Her sister died almost two years ago and she can’t function. She simply can’t get past it. Whether you or someone that you know manages to work through the emotional pain that grief brings with it or not you will still wear the scars and see and feel life differently. After someone very close to you dies, life takes on a new meaning and has you appreciating things from new vantage points with new lenses. For most, the hard work of sorting through their feelings brings benefits. No matter whether you move forward or choose to live in your hurt, the death of someone you love will guarantee that you will never be the same.