There is nothing more heartbreaking than looking at someone you thought you knew in the eyes and being unable to recognize who they are. It’s tragic really, physically seeing and holding a body that used to carry a soul that collided so beautifully with your own, but realizing you have no idea who or what it even is that occupies it’s insides anymore.
It’s not who you once knew. It’s not the same person you grew to care so deeply for. It’s not the same person who brought joy to your days and comfort to your nights. Maybe you have tried to hold on to what is clearly already gone because it doesn’t make sense in your head.
It doesn’t make sense that you could know everything about a person one second, and nothing the next.
Grieving isn’t just something we experience when a person physically dies. You can grieve the loss of someone who is still alive, and it hurts just as much.
The hardest thing about losing someone who is still alive is that you keep so much hope inside of you for so long that they might not actually be gone. That it’s just a phase. That they’ll find their way back to who they once were, and in turn back to you.
That’s the thing about grieving the loss of someone who is still alive; unlike physical death, there is no closure. You still have hope. You have so much hope.
It;s only a matter of time until they realize that pills are not a magic portal into a better world. Its only a matter of time until they choose memories with you over nights they can’t even remember. It’s only a matter of time until they realize that the people they are surrounding themselves with don’t care for them the way you care for them.
It’s only a matter of time until you hear them laugh so hard they bury their face in their hands. It’s only a matter of time until you see them smile again.
But if bodies can die, souls can too.
Earth doesn’t seem to move, but it does. The plates beneath the surface shift. With time the continents distance themselves from one and perhaps grow closer to another.
Their position changes. Their perspective changes. Earth today is not the same Earth it was a year ago, a month ago, or even yesterday. None of us are the same people we were yesterday.
People are not stationary, no matter how stable we all try to make ourselves seem. People are constantly shifting, so subtly, and the people around them don’t always take notice- often times we don’t even notice the changes taking place within ourselves.
People change, and people grow apart, and although sometimes it feels unfair that beautiful things like love can be gone in a second, the space that a person might have once filled now offers room for unimaginable wonder that can and will fill our lives with new and exciting experiences if only we learn to let go of what is already gone.
Naturally, we want to bring those we love along with us through this adventure we call life, but by trying to drag someone along into places that are not a part of their individual journey, we not only do them a disservice, but we lose ourselves trying to live a life other than our own.
As people, it is our place to care and love for one another, but it is not our place to decide for one another. That is why people can only see what they choose to see. People can only change if they choose to.
It is heartbreaking seeing someone you care for make choices that are less than beneficial to their well-being. It is heartbreaking feeling like you’re losing somebody to the temporary satisfaction of worldly things when you know there is so much more this world has to offer them, and so much that they have to offer the world.
If we choose to appreciate the special place each and every person holds in our lives, we might feel like we have lost someone in the present moment, but just because things pass does not mean they are lost. The past is never lost, rather it is frozen in a time that can not be touched.
The people we know might one day become people we knew, but that doesn’t make anything about our experiences with them less real.
Previously published on ThoughtCatalog.