What Does It Mean To Miss Someone? By Dr Linda Berman.

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Munch. Separation. Wikimedia Commons.

Separation 

Your absence has gone through me 
Like thread through a needle. 
Everything I do is stitched with its colour.

W.S. Merwin

How many situations in our lives mean that we may miss someone?

There are many, especially during this Covid-19 crisis.

I have chosen some important and relevant examples below:

  • Missing Someone Who Is Alive But Is No Longer In Our Lives.

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Elie Anatole Pavil – Au Café. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

“But nothing makes a room feel emptier than wanting someone in it.”
Calla Quinn

Separation and divorce may mean that, at times, we miss the person who has been in our lives for some time.

Even if the situation over separation was bad, as well as having angry and rejecting thoughts and feelings, we may find that we miss the good times and the good aspects of that other person.

We may also feel lonely, and may miss, not the person themselves, but the company or the feeling of security and intimacy that we may have had in the past.

If there are children, it may be difficult not to be able share that experience any more.

The resulting changes in one’s life can mean that there is fear, trepidation and regret.

There may be feelings of loss about no longer being part of a couple.

However, in time, there can develop a readiness to move away from longing for the past, into preparations for a new future and, perhaps, more satisfying relationships.

Obviously, reaching this stage takes time, but, when it feels right, the sadness will reduce.

Sometimes people might need professional help if they feel stuck in the past and cannot move on.

  • Missing Someone Who Is Dead Or Lost

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“It’s hard when you miss people. But you know if you miss them, that means you’re lucky. It means you had someone special in your life, someone worth missing.”

Nikki Schiefelbein

Grief is painful and often difficult to bear. Whatever the situation of event that led to our loss, the feelings we are left to cope with can be extremely testing.

The grief will remain with us and we will always miss the loved one; however, in time, we will usually learn to adapt to the loss and live our lives more fully again.

The process may be long and painful, and we will need the support of friends, family, and, perhaps, a therapist.

Edvard Munch, At the Deathbed, 1895, oil/tempera on canvas. Edvard Munch, At the Deathbed, 1895. Flickr.William Allen

“The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.”

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler

  • Missing Someone Who Is Far Away.

“In true love the smallest distance is too great and the greatest distance can be bridged.”

Hans Nouwens

Many times people have to be apart from their loved ones. Whilst we can communicate through video and phone calls, this is not like having face-to-face contact.

Whilst ‘seeing’ the person online is good, it can often exacerbate feelings of longing.

“Henry was learning that time apart has a way of creating distance- more than mountains and time zone separating them. Real distance, the kind that makes you ache and stop wondering. Longing so bad that it begins to hurt to care so much.”

Jamie Ford

Yet many find that, despite the distance, they can still keep their loved one in their mind and in their heart.

They still feel connected because they are under the same sky, seeing the same sun, moon and stars, a part of the same Universe.

I may not always be with you 
But when we’re far apart
Remember you will be with me
Right inside my heart

Marc Wambolt

“We were together even when we were apart.”
Shannon A. Thompson

2878717890_dc519a8b05_oVan Gogh, Starry Night Over the Rhone, 1888. Flickr:James Wang.

“Love knows not distance; it hath no continent; its eyes are for the stars.”
Gilbert Parker

  • The Pandemic, Social Distancing and Lockdown.

This awful period in our lives is creating mental health problems for many people.

Being apart from those we love, having to socially distance from others who are normally physically close to us, or being confined to our homes, sometimes alone, can be almost unbearable.

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Vincenzo Irolli – Lady at the Window. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

Now especially, it is extra important that we think about those who might be locked down alone.

We can offer them some comfort through phone and video calls, but the experience is nevertheless still difficult.

Parents may be missing their adult children. Grandparents will miss their children and grandchildren; quarantined children will miss their friends and their school. Girlfriends and boyfriends may be out of reach.

People are feeling the pain of enforced disconnection, the sadness of physical distance from those they love.

Whilst the vaccine is now giving us considerable hope of a way out of this tragic period, we do not know with any kind of certainty exactly when we will be able to be with some of those we miss again. 

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David Hockney – My Parents [1977]Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

Shard
by Ella Duffy

It was late when you called to say
you were on Southwark Bridge,

waving beneath a lamppost.
Third from the left.

So I stood at the window,
fifty floors up, pinned you

with the binoculars
which came with the room

then flashed the bathroom light;
morse code.

Around you, trains eased through
boroughs on wishbone tracks;

lanterns of Londoners
headed for home.

You danced on the road, blowing kisses,
giddy with seeing me,

your daughter, blinking my small light
down on the city;

the space between us swollen
and homesick, a mile long.

From New Hunger (Smith/Doorstop Books, 2020).

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Paul Delvaux – The Neighbourhood [1959]. Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.

How Do We Cope With Missing People At This Time?

  • It is hard to live each day, to take one day at a time, but this approach does help, if we can manage it.
  • Remember that ‘this too will pass.’ Everything is impermanent, both the good and the bad in our lives do not last.
  • Take good care of yourself, mentally and physically. Indulge yourself a little, doing the things you like. Talk to others about how you feel, when and where possible, if not face-to-face, then online. Buddha said “We cannot pour from an empty cup.”
  • Keep in touch somehow, with those people who make you feel loved, maybe with regular video or phone calls, or ‘having dinner’ with people on Zoom.
  • Keep in mind that we are connected as human beings to everyone else in the world, who are all suffering with us in different ways.

All You Who Sleep Tonight.

All you who sleep tonight
Far from the ones you love,
No hands to left or right,
And emptiness above –
Know that you aren’t alone.
The whole world shares your tears,
Some for two nights or one,
And some for all their years.

© 1992, Vikram Seth

©Linda Berman.

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