I have been considering the definition of complicated grief. A question that was posed to me was, "What do you think is harder? Losing someone slowly, or suddenly?"
This week and last I worked with teens in two school systems who have suffered loss of someone close to them, both suddenly and in slow process. I've also been working with hospice patients and their families, some for months now. The clients I see who have Parkinson's Disease is an entirely different animal; each of these populations share qualities surrounding loss as well as have finite distinctions.
I can't answer as to which is harder-- losing someone suddenly or through a process of losing abilities and skills. I know I have a family member who died suddenly, about a year and a half ago. That sucked. I felt that my relationship with him was relatively close, and I find myself thinking of him often. I also think of his kids and their families. I think of his wife and his siblings, and I wonder how they are in their grieving process. I believe grieving happens, whether or not it’s an intentional act. I think grieving exists alongside living, or rather, within living. Grief glorifies the importance of living well.
Sudden loss is likely horrible. Memories of the last time seeing the person who died erupt, and questions as to whether or not that person knows how loved he or she was arise. There is no time to have prepared for living in this person's absence.
Slow death is another kind of sad, sometimes. Moving through the process of the disease or the disorder or even the treatment with the person can be debilitating. Watching as the person you knew as having skills and abilities decline and transition into a person who needs assistance can be agonizing. Life is an ever-changing organism, especially in dying.
I still can't answer that question, and I hope I never try. Death is hard, in any circumstance. But it can help you see how you'd like to live.