I'm a planner. My workout clothes are set out the night before, as are everything we will need for breakfast in the morning. I plan out the week with long to-do lists and jot down notes on calendars. I typically start packing one or two weeks before leaving for a trip. Any spontaneous acts are carefully thought out prior to execution. This has worked pretty well for me and for the most part, I feel in control of most aspects of my life.
With one glaring exception. How does one plan - emotionally - for the death of a friend or loved one? Up until recently thoughts of this kind have not intruded upon the placid rhythm of my life. I've yet to have experience with the death of a close family member. But, the past year has been a rocky one for both my family and myself and for several of my dear friends. Two of my friends have recently lost parents. Kin and kind have been marred by serious illness. A member of my own family came alarmingly close to losing his life and the battle is not yet over.
Yes, there are things to do: understand the wishes of those close to us, write up wills or requests, get the Power of Attorney and Advanced Care Directive in order - and there is some kind of comfort in accomplishing these "administrative" tasks, if only because it takes ones mind off of the wrenching, emotional aspect of the passing of someone we hold dear.
If only there were a way to mitigate the crush of sorrow. Maybe, like taking a tiny sip of poison each day in the hopes of gaining immunity from its deadly effects, one could bear a small dose of grief everyday so that by the time the crisis comes, one isn't overwhelmed by the black and bleak weight of loss. If only that kind of planning were possible. I'm afraid even if it that small act was performed devotedly - taking that tiny, bitter dose every day - that it would never diminish the flood that comes after losing a loved one. It is proper, really. The heavier the sorrow, the deeper the love; the harder the loss, the sweeter the impact that loved one had on life.