It’s not easy being visually impaired. I haven’t had perfect vision since I was around 12. As with many kids, I realized my eyes were failing when I couldn’t see the writing on the classroom blackboard. Diagnosis – nearsighted. I had to get glasses when they weren’t “in” or “cool.” But I coped and got contact lenses as quickly as my parents would allow them.
And, I’m at the stage in life where I wear monovision contacts. One eye sees up close and one sees far.
The ability to see up close and far at the same time takes a special ability. What an amazing feat for our brains accomplish.
As I think about it, my experience with complicated grief has given me emotional monovision.
Prior to losing my daughter, I was farsighted about grief. Although I lost a few, dear friends to cancer, ALS and old age, I experienced my losses without emotional complications. The people who left my life were dear to me, yet not in my daily inner circle. I could see the long, landscape of positive impact that they had on me and was grateful for them. As an adult friend, I was fortunate to have loving and deep relationships with each woman and had no regrets of any type. I miss them, yet there is peace when I think of them.
Losing Leah, my grief lens zoomed into a super close-up view. For this season of time, I am wearing a nearsighted lens. The pain is so intimate that I can only see it as though looking through a magnifying glass. Even two years later, I experience so many emotions – love, appreciation, compassion, sadness, anger, sorrow, some regret – so closely, and at the same time, that it is hard to differentiate which feelings are which.
The grief I am describing is similar to standing really close to a Monet painting. Up close, you only see little dots. It’s not until you step back do you see the beauty of the entire landscape.
Because Leah was so connected to me and our relationship personal and daily, the loss of her presence makes it difficult to see a big picture perspective. It is hard to step back far enough to see the full impact she had on my life.
I can think more objectively about my parents who passed away the same year as Leah. But harder with my child.
Getting through each day, week and month is the goal. I am grateful God gave me Leah for the time He did. Even two years later, it’s a painful reality to plan a future without her.
How does emotional monovision change my view of the world?
Losing a child gives me the emotional experience and awareness about the differences between these two forms of grief. In our culture, fortunately most people will never lose a child. Losing someone so close is growing me in understanding, empathy, patience, generosity, compassion and perseverance. I see things that I can only experience by having a myopic perspective.
Today, I can relate to other parents who have lost children. I must say – I was totally clueless before losing Leah about childhood cancer or fatalities of children. Child loss was an experience out there – on the far horizon. It happened to other people – not me.
I cringe at things that I may have said or thought about life threatening illness in children or the death of a child before losing Leah. Today, my hope is that I am more sensitive.
What emotional lenses do you wear?
Are you nearsighted, farsighted or have you chosen monovision? Having emotional monovision is a choice. You can make this choice. You will never see the world as I do, but you can chose to take the emotional energy necessary to focus in on the trials of the parents who are dealing with life threatening illness or death of a child.
I don’t believe you have to lose a child to grow in empathy and compassion toward those of us who are in the midst of a trial or have lost children.
Watch and listen.
Please don’t expect anyone who is dealing with a child’s illness or has lost a child, or spouse for that matter, to ever “get over it.”
When you start with an open heart, you’ll be amazed at what you see – and the compassion that grows in you – as you look through another person’s grief lens.