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  • Daniel Francis

What Are You Missing?

I've read that sometimes a person who's had a leg amputated feels a phantom itch and might even reach to scratch non-existent skin. I wonder if the body is missing a part of itself and tricks the mind as a way of re-membering.

Some of our friends are doing well, adapting to these strange times. Others are experiencing "cabin fever" or even low-grade depression. I can understand that. Alice and I miss eating at our local haunts and supporting independent businesses. We don't go to the cinema often but do miss that opportunity. We are adapting to going without some things. Truthfully, most of what we go without is not essential.

But it seems that there are indefinable, wordless aches that are creating a sense of loss in many people. Our friend Keen pointed us to a podcast called On Being with Krista Tippett- specifically, an episode called "Navigating Loss Without Closure." Her guest, Pauline Boss, came up with the term "ambiguous loss."

I remember back in 2001 when my mom died at age 70. She, my father and a lot of the family were at the First Communion of my twin nieces when suddenly she collapsed and died of a heart attack. I certainly mourned her death, as did many others. But even years later there was something beyond words that would taint family celebrations and life events. How glad I was that some of my siblings were there for that dinner the night before she died and witnessed the viaticum the day of her passing; but my not having closure--not being able to say "good-bye"--lingered in me for many years. I felt the presence of her absence, as if part of me had been amputated.


Is this lockdown/stay-at-home/safer-at-home/mask-wearing/hand-washing/6-feet-distancing/new abnormal taking its toll on you? Then be gentle with yourself. Sometimes it's the indescribable hurt or loss that can sneak up on you. If it eventually breaks open your heart- good. If it breaks your spirit, give me a call. No, seriously. That's what I do!




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©2020 by Alice & Daniel Francis