Calm Down, Move On, Get Over It?

Unexpectedly losing a loved one is hard to understand if you haven’t been through it yourself.

It’s hard to describe but I’ll try using a scene from Jaws. I was 17 when it came out. The whole movie was hard to watch. In fact, I instinctively watched the film curled up and sitting on my feet. It felt like there was some unknown disaster crawling around beneath me in the dark.

There’s a particularly difficult scene that involves a girl about my age at the time. It’s the heat of summer. She’s running along the beach feeling free and plunges herself into the cool ocean water.

Floating in the gentle, deep water she is suddenly yanked beneath the surface. She comes up for air with a bewildered look on her face that seems to say, “What was that?” She’s jerked under again. And again. All we can see is her bewildered, terrified face as she’s thrashed back and forth across the screen, plunged over and over again into the dark unknown. And then, she’s gone.

I was sorry for this poor girl but so glad I was semi-sitting in my comfortable seat with the comforting knowledge that this was just a fantasy. It could not happen to me.

Boy was I wrong.

No, I wasn’t ravaged and finally killed by a gigantic shark. But there have been times in my life since that night when I wish I was safely in my seat with my feet tucked up underneath me – safe from the unknown swirling below.

Even as I write this – years later – I’m kind of jealous that her story ended that night. It happened to her once in a terrible, but brief encounter – something she didn’t have to face again.

The death of a loved one can come when we least expect it. Unseen forces can drag us down to depths we never imagined. If we’re thrown up on shore we’re stunned, wounded and never the same. We have been torn physically, emotionally, spiritually and are in serious need.

Had the girl in the water survived that shark attack would you tell her to calm down, move on, get over it? Or, would you hold her, sit with her while she tries to make sense of what just happened and listen when she’s able to talk about it?

Just something to think about.

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